Kabir Khan admits ‘the distinction between patriotism and nationalism is blurred’ in India
The Forgotten Army director Kabir Khan says that ‘the distinction between patriotism and nationalism is blurred’ today.Updated: Jan 25, 2020 08:04 IST
For a filmmaker who often wades into the world of geopolitics in his films, Kabir Khan is rarely described as a political filmmaker. Perhaps it is the populism of his movies which prevents them from being seen as serious works.
It’s a balance he’s frequently had to straddle in his films, from Kabul Express and New York to the back-to-back Salman Khan-starrers he directed, Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Tubelight. The director continues his streak in his first streaming show, The Forgotten Army, which was released on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.
“I take the politics of my films very seriously,” he told Hindustan Times, and repeated an adage he’s said multiple times in the past: “I’ve often said that I can forgive a shoddy screenplay or bad acting, but I can never forgive bad politics.”
Watch our interview with Kabir Khan here:
Admitting that history is being distorted in mainstream films -- the recent period epic Tanhaji attracted much controversy in this regard -- Khan said that it is ‘very important’ to him to be historically accurate. The Forgotten Army tells the story of the rogue Indian National Army, which found its origins in the wake of the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War 2. “Today, the distinction between patriotism and nationalism is blurred,” he said.
Actor Saif Ali Khan, who played the antagonist’s role in Tanhaji, questioned the film’s historical inaccuracy, which he described as a ‘dangerous’ precedent. Saif worked with Khan in the 2015 film Phantom, which played fast and loose with history itself, sending Indian agents into Pakistan on a retaliatory mission after the 26/11 terror attacks. Khan, however, asserted that he would never make a film “because something is popular right now and we should fit in with that narrative.” Phantom was released to poor reviews and unremarkable box office reception, seven years after the attacks.
Before Uri: The Surgical Strike made the line famous, it was Saif’s character in Phantom who first uttered the line ‘Ghar ke andar ghus ke maarenge’. Perhaps as a sign of how the landscape has changed, Uri became a runaway hit, grossing close to Rs 350 crore worldwide.
“History always remains relevant,” Khan said, noting the unplanned connection of a subplot in The Forgotten Army, which depicts a student-led protest, to the nationwide protests against the controversial CAA-NRC bills taking place right now. “When I wrote this story 20 years ago, I would think it sounds so relevant today for what’s happening in the country. Twenty years later, some other parts seem so relevant to what’s happening now,” he said. “History always repeats itself.”
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