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As India's Elections Loom, Bollywood Movies Embrace Patriotic Trend

© AP Photo / Manish SwarupIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses party supporters, standing next to his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah at their headquarters in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses party supporters, standing next to his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah at their headquarters in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 28.03.2024
In the lead-up to India's Lok Sabha elections, several Bollywood filmmakers are cashing in on movies with narratives that resonate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist ideology and agenda.
Movies evoking patriotic and Hindu nationalist sentiments have been flooding the box office, some loosely based on big events in the history of India, while others are biopics glorifying political figures.
Filmmaker Siddharth Anand's 'Fighter,' starring Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, and Deepika Padukone as expert fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force, is a thinly veiled piece of fiction loosely based on the Pulwama terror attack incident that took place during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime and India’s subsequent Balakot airstrike against Pakistan in 2019.
While Aditya Suhas Jambhale's 'Article 370' starring Yami Gautam set against the backdrop of the revocation of the special status, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, by PM Modi’s government in 2019.
The biopic 'Main Atal Hoon' portrays the life struggles of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a co-founder and prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who played a pivotal role in advancing the Hindu nationalist movement and served as India's Prime Minister three times.
Another politically-inspired biopic 'Swatantra Veer Savarkar' (Independent Warrior Savarkar) tells the lesser-known story of an Indian freedom fighter, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who developed the Hindu nationalist political ideology of Hindutva while confined at Ratnagiri jail in Maharashtra in 1922.
The surge in politicized entertainment has sparked debates whether filmmakers are capitalizing on films that feature narratives aligning with Hindutwa ideology and big decisions taken by PM Modi's government for the national interest and well-being of the country.
While films around politics are coming out ahead of elections might be engaging a broad audience or a conversation starter, critics believe that it is hard to sway one's electoral or voting decisions as it depends on various other factors.

"There is a possibility that some filmmakers must be trying to encash by coming up with such movies following a hit trend or ahead of election time. However, it might impact thoughts since people often take films seriously, I don't believe it can change or influence how people vote," renowned film critic and trade analyst, Komal Nahta, told Sputnik India.

He added that there is another section of the audience who are well aware and educated about the current political backdrop and view films only as films and not as opinion changers or as instruments to influence people's thinking.
Filmmakers, on the other hand, claim that their movie is an artistic expression that aims to enlighten and entertain the audience and not a political tool to publicise or favour a particular party.

"Some filmmakers claim that they were merely drawn to the subject and narrative, which motivated them to create a film that aims to bring out the untold stories of the nation's heroes, celebrate its history, and instigate a sense of patriotism among the citizens. Some say that it's the trend or flavour of the season, so they try to encash it by joining the bandwagon. While others might agree that they created the movie keeping in mind some sort of agenda," Nahta concluded.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) flags are displayed at a street inhabited by members of the Telugu Chetti community in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala state, India, Saturday, April 3, 2021. - Sputnik India, 1920, 06.04.2023
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