Remember the times when ‘Patriotism’ was a favourite theme in Indian cinema? When stories of freedom fighters and national awakening abounded? From Mother India and Shaheed to Lakshya and Rang De Basanti, Hindi cinema has often revisited the patriotic premise, highlighting issues that have plagued the country at different times. These films had or rather have a cult following but oft lately this ‘trend’ seems to have diminished. In the past year or so Bollywood has barely created any films that touch upon this premise. Have we run out of inspiring stories that evoke a sense of nationality or are we just not that patriotic anymore?

With Republic Day around the corner, we look back at the masterpieces that Hindi cinema has given us, movies that recounted the inspiring struggle for independence or underlined contemporary issues like corruption and youth awakening.

Pandolin lists 5 evergreen films that strike a chord with every Indian.


Shaheed – Released in 1965, Shaheed was one of the first movies based on the life of a freedom fighter. The film captured the life of Bhagat Singh, displaying the essence of the legendary patriot’s sacrifice. The gripping story of young freedom fighters including Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajguru and Sukhdev moved the nation. Directed by S Ram Sharma, this was also the first of Manoj Kumar’s many patriotic films. Shaheed won the National Award for best feature film amongst several other awards. The film’s legendary songs such as ‘Aye Vatan Aye Vatan’ and ‘Mera Rang De Basanti’ are remembered to this day.


Kranti – Manoj Kumar’s Kranti is a poignant tale of nationalism, based on India’s fight for independence. Released in 1981, the film spans through a 50-year period capturing the long and bloody battle for freedom from the British. As the title implies, it traces the roots of the revolution through the story of two men who become soldiers. Penned by Saleem – Javed, the film also marked Dilip Kumar’s comeback after a long hiatus.


Border – One of the most popular patriotic films, Border was based on the Battle of Longewala fought during the Indo – Pak war of 1971. The film chronicled the lives of a battalion of soldiers on battlefield entwining their personal emotions with their responsibility towards the country. The bonding of the young soldiers who face near death experiences everyday and still fight back, touched the hearts of the nation. J.P.Dutta’s film won critical and commercial acclaim and several accolades.


Lagaan – A box-office hit, Lagaan had an instant connect with the cricket crazy masses of the nation. Set in the era of the British Raj, the film revolves around a group of villagers who stake their destinies on a game of cricket when persuaded by the British. Director Ashutosh Gowariker’s ground-breaking film struck an emotional and entertaining balance and had the audience wait with bated breath till the very last ball. With a captivating story and remarkable performances, the film went on to become India’s official entry to the 2002 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.


Rang De Basanti – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s coming of age drama showcased the awakening of the youth against a corrupt nation. Released in 2006, Rang De Basanti seamlessly blends the contemporary lead characters with the heroes of pre-independence India thus creating an extraordinary story of friendship, love and patriotism. A. R. Rahman created the phenomenal music for the film, which was accompanied by Prasoon Joshi’s unforgettable lyrics. Rang De Basanti is a milestone film that motivates without preaching.