File photo of Ajay Devgn | Flickr
Text Size:

Bollywood has never failed to capitalise on the trope of ‘patriotism’. In the past few years, the mantle of making money out of patriotism has been worn largely by Akshay Kumar. But this time, Ajay Devgn has decided to shake things up a bit. The actor-producer is all set to make a film on the Galwan Valley clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

It has only been 20 days since Indian and Chinese soldiers fought in Ladakh. But even before the first draft of history, journalism, has put out what’s happening at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Bollywood is ready with its hyper-nationalism-on-steroids. Military history in India is still a fragile genre. Review committee reports of wars such as Kargil take a long time to come out, and when they do, they are overly cautious in their language. The face-off at LAC isn’t even over — just this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Nimoo in Leh district to bolster the spirit of the armed forces and send a message. But Bollywood, the handmaiden of political nationalism, is already raring to go.


Also read: From Nehru to Modi, Bollywood always faced political attacks but this capitulation is new


The ‘official’ version

India’s stand against China’s aggression and possible intrusion is at best foggy, with diplomatic and military talks between the two countries still underway.

The Modi government’s silence over the Galwan incident, followed by contradictory remarks by the prime minister, ignited demands for answers and explanations. As tribute messages for the soldiers poured in, a stand against China was nowhere in sight, except the contentious and widely ridiculed banning of 59 Chinese apps.

But Bollywood doesn’t mind such lack of clarity when it wants to show its patriotic and nationalist side, riding on the back of the Indian military. Did Indian soldiers die? That’s enough for it to hit the cash registers running.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


Also read: Kangana Ranaut & Anupam Kher target liberals, but their patriotic act falls flat


Bollywood’s tryst with ‘patriotism’

Ajay Devgn’s rush to make a movie on the Galwan Valley standoff reeks of plain ol’ Bollywood opportunism.

Of late, the Hindi film industry has realised just how profitable the Army, soldiers, war or anything revolving around the Indian military can be. The past few years are a proof of that, with a string of movies — Phantom, ParmanuAiyaari, WarUri — hitting the cinemas with many more lined up — Bhuj (starring Ajay Devgn), Sam, and, of course, the yet-untitled film on the Galwan Valley clash.


Also read: Raazi shows the kind of nationalism that’s not thrust upon, but rather self-created


Misplaced patriotism

The Modi government’s response to the Chinese incursion has been to ban 59 apps. But such moves flow from the Indian public’s misplaced patriotism that wants something ‘immediate’ to calm its raging nerve. In the absence of any response from the government, the public raises its ‘boycott’ pitch — the go-to method to claim some semblance of ‘action’.

The mood after the Galwan clash was similar, with the country witnessing scenes of people breaking Chinese home appliances or asking for ban on Chinese food. And, of course, Prasar Bharti’s own review of its contract with news agency PTI for the latter’s interview with Chinese envoy Sun Weidong.

It is this hyperactive, nationalistic nerve that Bollywood tries to cash in on from time to time.


Also read: Modi & Shah have turned India into ‘Jingostan’ & are out to conquer the paranoid country


Jingoism — the money raker

Jingoism sells. Period. Among the 37 films made between 2013-2019, along the themes of nationalism and patriotism, or rather jingoism, 2019’s Uri: The Surgical Strike made Rs 200 crore while Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015 made Rs 190 crore. Films such as the spy thriller Shabana also managed to earn Rs 3 crore despite it being made as a prequel of sorts to Baby, which came out in 2015.

So, it hardly comes as a surprise that Ajay Devgn saw a money-making opportunity in Indians’ misplaced ideas of what constitutes ‘patriotism’.

The New India version of ‘patriotism’ demands proof from the people, thrashes anyone not standing up while the national anthem is played in cinema halls, breaks Chinese products — all this leaves little doubt that Ajay Devgn’s movie on Galwan Valley clash will be a hit.

But make no mistake: the success of the film will mean absolutely nothing for the families of 20 soldiers who lost their lives.

But the Ajay Devgns of Bollywood don’t care. They will call their movies their ‘tribute’ to the soldiers.

Since the Indian government is yet to determine its own final and official position regarding the standoff with China, I am inclined to agree with some Twitter users who have been quick to predict the climax of the film — Ajay Devgn’s character uninstalling 59 Chinese apps from his phone.

Views are personal.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

16 Comments Share Your Views

16 COMMENTS

  1. Any movie made without understanding the history, just to make money is sure to get distorted. Who will play role of Modi, Rahul, Rajnath. Any commedy scene, song and dance.

  2. I suggest Indian Bollywood make one more movie “Ghus K Maren Ga. Shameless Indians are still thinking to conquer the China and Pakistan. Whereas China has done enough and left no doubt in the minds of Indians, what their moral value is and where Indian foces stand moreover India must not forget Feb 27,2019

  3. “…contentious and widely ridiculed banning of 59 Chinese apps.”
    Which world do you people in The Print populate? Both “contentious” and “ridiculed” are figments of your leftist commie anti-India imagination. If anything, Indians are 90% for the ban and want more of the same. You guys in the anti-national The Print should take Sundays off, working your behinds away all week is not doing good to whatever\s left in your beat-up brains. Honestly. Learn some Mandarin and migrate.

  4. Being Patriotic is big business. Ask Akshay, the only Indian (oops, actually Canadian) in the Forbes list of highest paid celebrities. Wondering how much would he have got for the mango interview?

    Or at a lower end of the spectrum, the IT cell workers who make their dough by crowding out these comment sections, trying to brow beat any voice critical or not inline with those of their political masters.

    • You are totally mistaken pal.
      There are no IT cell workers crowding out comments. Today’s reality is that there are a huge number of patriotic, well spoken people out there in cyder space, who (unlike in the 1950s and 1960s) can now also speak & write in King’s English and have decided not not remain silent any longer. This is why the nay sayers feel that they are outnumbered. Expressing oneself is surely not the prerogative of only the Lyuten’s mob; has the arrogance not been beaten out of you lot as yet?

  5. What’s the problem? According to you movies like Border, Sarbjit, 26/11, Bhagat Singh, Lakshya, etc are made for only profit? Hell to your gutter thinking and negativity and crticism. Go and check your mental balance.

  6. What’s the problem?
    Do you want someone to make a movie on that duffer, China-man, traitor Rahul Gandhi?

  7. What stops Ms. Das from making a film on the Galwan Valley incident and making millions (or even billions) out of it? Is freedom of expression a monopoly of the selected few?
    Besides, why cannot anyone else make a film on this incident. What sort of logic is this? Ajav Devgn does not “own” the Galwan Valley incident and everyone who wishes to make a film on it is most welcome to do so.

  8. What’s your problem!!when its “My name is Khan ” then it’s not overplaying the victimhood mentality, but URI is jingoistic, obviously you belong to the LEFTOVERS, either from JNU, JU or JAMIA, so not surprisingly your views are what they are

  9. Share the entire profit from the movie with the family of the dead ones? Nope. No nationalism when it comes to money lol

  10. Your view on app ban is absurd and shows lack of knowledge. Do you know how much money they will lose due to app ban ? Go and check your pappa ndtv.com

  11. Usual crappy article from Ms. Das. The bitter undercurrent is always the same, criticize the PM and anyone else who believes in nationalism.
    We are tired of sorry failures like Ms Das.

  12. Nothing wrong if his movie helps in arousing nationalism in Indians. Nowadays, you need such catalysts in people to make them love their country and its people. History books no longer generate patriotism in people nor the hollow calls of duty towards the nation by the politicians. Such movies help better in understanding our soldiers and the sacrifices made by them for the country. But, by doing that Mr. Devgn should not allow the history of India- China dispute to be distorted. Mr Devgn being a sensible person is also expected to help the cause of the family members of the brave soldiers who have martyred in action for defending their country’s border. India faces a real threat from China.The threat is not limited to boundary dispute only although it is the most important issue between the two countries. China poses threat to the Indian industry also by its rise as an economic superpower. We are now increasingly dependent on cheaper Chinese goods.This is the area where the Indian industry has failed. Despite having a large pool of scientific and technological manpower the Indian industry has failed to utilise their talent.The industries here encourage using foreign made goods and technology rather than nurturing our own talents. You cannot progress by being a poor or rich consumer only, For a country like India the real growth will come only when we become a producer also, producer of top quality goods and soft technology at the affordable prices.

  13. If movie makers wish to make such films let’s hope they also have the decency to share a part of the earnings with the families of those who inspired them. Just as they pay royalties when they plagiarise the works of others. If these 20 bravehearts hadn’t died the film maker would not have the subject.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here