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Pop goes patriotism

Pop goes patriotism

india Updated: Aug 15, 2006 03:35 IST

What is it about patriotism at the movies? Ask any member of the GenNext about a movie that manages to work up a more-than-skin-deep frisson of Indian-ness.

Chances are it won’t be I… Proud To Be Indian, where the beefy Sohail Khan beats to pulp the counterparts of the Ku Klux Klan in the land of the Mad Cow disease.

It won’t even be the ‘classic’ Haqeeqat or Hindustan Ki Kasam. Safely eliminate Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain, Raj Kapoor’s peekaboo under the waterfall. Border? Nah, too boring; besides, how was the blind Raakhee managing to thread her eyebrows sitting in some remote village, waiting for her son to come back after fighting the war?

Chances are that it would be Rang De Basanti or Lagaan.

Lagaan because, one, it’s basically about the only sport that India can bat for in the global (okay, make that Commonwealth) arena; and, two, the music, which was fighting fit. Rang De Basanti because it’s young, effervescent and takes on the system; for once, we aren’t fighting cross-border enemies, the Big Bad Brits or McDonald-isation — we are fighting the enemy within.

Lately, Indian-ness in films isn’t having much to do with the mise en scene or the ensemble. The much-hyped Lakshya lost its focus at the box-office. The fighter jets bombed LoC; it was too much like a documentary, or so they said. Patriotism is now cleverly disguised — not so cleverly actually, but disguised nevertheless. Remember the hunky Hrithik Roshan running down London Bridge in Karan Johar’s Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham? The bells weren’t tolling for him from the Big Ben: the original soundtrack was belting out Vande Mataram (I bet at least 90 per cent of us don’t know who penned this, our national anthem No 2; I know who he was because he was a Bengali, and, no, it wasn’t the great Tagore). Now, what was a patriotic number doing in a weepie family drama that was all about loving your parents — even if they were foster ones?

Simple: it’s because We, the People of India, love our parents like no other, and therefore the ‘Indian-ness’.

Then, there was Kajol (in the same film) mouthing obscenities about her ‘uncultured’ Brit neighbours. Couldn’t blame her much: she wanted to inculcate ‘Indian-ness’ in her NRI son. Kajol again in Fanaa where she shoots down the love of her life, point-blank, without batting an eyelid, because her Indian-ness was more important than singing duets with Terrorist Aamir — all this after the plot has not been lost.

And the motley crew of Little India in the Big Apple in Kal Ho Naa Ho who take on the Chinese restaurateurs across the road kyunki makki ki roti with sarson da saag rocks, and it’s the time to disco.

We’re lovin’ it. More of the same please!