Bollywood and Politics
Elections are the hot topic these days; that and how Yuvraj Singh is the reason for India’s defeat in the ICC T-20 World Cup. While politics might be the flavour of the season, Bollywood is the flavour of every season with banned screenings, commercial successes, box office hits and a daily dose of gossip from the industry. And just like this year’s controversial political scene, these Bollywood films didn’t have it easy for them either:
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) – This cult classic from 1983, considered one of the best all time Bollywood hits, made the careers of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra who were both assistant directors on this project and who later went on to become successful directors themselves. Actor Naseeruddin Shah who was paid a mere Rs. 15,000 brought his own camera which he lost by the end of the film’s shooting. Jaane bhi Do Yaaron was produced by NFDC and is a tribute to the 1966 film Blow-Up as once told by Director Kundan Shah.
The hilarious Mahabharata scene from Jaane bhi Do Yaaron.
Kissa Kursi Ka (1977) – This film is remembered as the queen of all controversies. Directed by Amrit Nahata, Kissa Kursi Ka was a political satire on Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi. This film was banned during the Emergency period and all the prints were destroyed. Not single print of the film really survived. We managed to find this though:
Kissa Kursi ka, the whole film.
Sarkar (2005) – This Amitabh Bachchan starrer political drama was quite a success and easily one of the last fine works by Ram Gopal Varma. The film at the time of its release was in the news because of its stark resemblance to The Godfather. The film’s story and the characters were said to have a close resemblance to Shiv Sena leader Bal Thakrey’s life and his family.
Raajneeti (2010) – This movie was based on the Indian epic Mahabharata. Raajneeti did not have a smooth ride, with the censor board initially denying a certificate and then later letting the film off the hook with a U/A certificate after deleting a bunch of ‘offensive’ scenes. The resemblance of Katrina Kaif’s character to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi did not help the process.
Raajneeti official trailer
Shanghai (2012) – Shaghai was steeped in controversies right before its release. There were demands to put a stay on the release of the film but the High Court refused to do so. The song ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ drew criticism from some sections and the President of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, a political group, gave an open warning to the makers of the film, to cut the song off the film because the lyrics were considered offensive.
Bharat Mata ki Jai song, Shanghai
Gulaal (2009) – Gulaal’s journey was ridden with struggles right from the beginning when the film was being made. After some trouble with the producers, Gulaal’s shooting was stalled and it did not pick up till after two years.
Gulaal official trailer
Yuva (2004) – Yuva finally gave Abhishek Bachchan the recognition he was looking for to survive in Bollywood. It was a Hindi remake of the Tamil film, Aaytha Ezhuthu in which Madhavan played Abhishek Bachchan’s role. Yuva’s narrative has been compared to the format used by Quentin Tarantino in his films.
Abhishek Bachchan and Sonu Sood in Yuva.
Nayak (2001) – Lot of people compared Anil Kapoor’s character in this film with political figure Arvind Kejriwal tracking his journey from the time he first entered politics to becoming the chief minister of Delhi. Rumours have it that Anil Kapoor was asked to to shave his chest hair and when he refused to it, the director was considering hiring a different actor. The film is also known for a mud scene shot with 36 cameras.
Madras Café (2013) – The newest addition to the list of political dramas is Madras Café. It’s based on India’s controversial relationship with Sri Lanka during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime. This of course generated some controversy. After the trailer for this movie was out, there were protests against the portrayal of Tamils. The film eventually ended up being boycotted by various cinema halls in Tamil Nadu.
Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Where the mind is without fear’, Madras cafe.
The list is incomplete without mentioning some of Gulzar’s masterpieces while we are on the topic of Bollywood political dramas.
Aandhi (1975) – Allegedly inspired by Indira Gandhi’s life, Aandhi was banned just after a few weeks of it’s release. The irony is that Gulzar was accepting an award for this film in another country while it was banned in his own. Initially, Suchitra Sen’s role was offered to Vaijyanti Mala but she declined it because of the character’s resemblance to Mrs. Gandhi. After the emergency was lifted, Aandhi was released on television and soon became a very loved film by the audiences.
Maachis (1996) – One of the only films made on the Khalistan movement, Maachis was not just a critical success, it became a commercial success as well. Vishal Bharadwaj’s music and Gulzar’s direction made this film one of the most beautifully made political films of all time.
Hu Tu Tu (1999) – Corruption, injustice, politics, vengeance and love- these are some of the issues Gulzar’s ‘Hu Tu Tu’ deals with. It was Gulzar’s last directorial venture and not much of a commercial success but it earned appreciation from critics and earned Tabu a Filmfare nomination. The song ‘Ghapla’ faced some controversies because it mentioned names of some big government organisations.
If you follow Indian politics and you’re a lover of Indian cinema this is a must-watch list for you.
Note: Pandolin does not own these videos. Also, please tell us if we have missed out on any film.
– By Kratika Sharma
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