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Proud to be an Indian

Javed Akhtar talks about the can’t-miss films of patriotic fervour to Rachana Dubey.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2009 11:05 IST

I don’t know how many people realise the significance of January 26. Over the years, I have observed that the Independence Day celebrations on August 15 have far more fervour than Republic Day.

What many tend to sideline is the fact that August 15 has no value without January 26. Of course, it’s a great deal not to be enslaved by the British Raj but how great is it to be enslaved by the local rajnetas?

On Republic Day, we got our constitution. We were entrusted with our fundamental rights. We received our freedom of expression, to equality under law, and to follow the faith of our choice. We are the largest surviving democracy in the world.

Here I recommended our must-watch films to experience the Hindustani sentiment. These films give me gooseflesh even today when I watch them on DVD:

(Director: Chetan Anand,1964)
The Indian psyche at the time was bruised because the illusion of the Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai had broken too harshly. This film didn’t glorify war.. it glorified the martyrs.The song at the end — Kar chale hum fida —written by Kaifi Azmi, has become immortal.. the way Ae mere watan ke logon has.

(Director:Manoj Kumar,1965)
This black-and-white film about the supreme sacrifice of a 23-year-old touched hearts and minds. It was narrated in a simple and candid manner, there were no unnecessary commercial tactics. Subsequently there have been attempts to make films on Shaheed Bhagat Singh. But they missed out on quality story telling.

(Director: Manoj Kumar,1967)
Manoj Kumar made his debut as a director and made the farmer a national hero. It may not have been the first time that this was depicted. It was the subject’s treatment which took the film to another level.

There was an outstanding script, rousing music, excellent dialogue and fantastic story telling. The film, I would even say, took a leap into the temperament of the future.

( Director: Farhan Akhtar, 2004)
I apologise for choosing one of my own stories here. Although the film evoked a lukewarm response at the box-office, I have met several people in big and small towns who have told me that they’ve seen the film several times over. Army officers have saidthat their lives have never been portrayed more authentically.

A carefree, socially indifferent boy discovers a world beyond his own. He becomes an army officer whom every parent can be proud of. I take pride in this story.. that I tried writing it and my son Farhan directed it so well.

Rang de Basanti
(Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, 2006)
We had reconciled ourselved to the fact that the youth is not at all concerned with social issues, national pride and integration. Here was a story of the youth today who find their anchor eventually in nationalism. The approach to the story was modern. And I’ve never come across a movie which impressed so many young minds to think differently.