Bollywood released a string of political movies in 2019, all with varying degrees of political and historical accuracy. Uri: The Surgical Strike, The Accidental Prime Minister, Thackeray, Gully Boy (India’s official entry to the Oscars), Article 15, The Tashkent Files, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, PM Narendra Modi, Sonchiriya, Kesari, Hamid, Section 375 and Batla House are some such examples.
ThePrint asks: Which are India’s 3 best political movies of 2019??
Kesari, Uri & Batla House were 2019’s best political films. They capture current idea of India
Author of ‘The Saffron Surge:Untold Story of RSS Leadership’and ‘Know About RSS’
The three best political movies of 2019 were Kesari, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Batla House. They captured the country’s mood of patriotism and nationalism. Uri’s popular dialogue, “How’s the Josh”, was picked up by even Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign. The tremendous response to these three movies and the way they charged up viewers in cinema halls reflected the collective love for India.
These movies also indicated that people want the legacy of India’s glorious past to be restored, something which the country was forced to forget. The box office success of Batla House was a message for the Congress and other opposition parties that questioned Delhi Police’s narrative of the encounter.
Films are often a reflection of society. If we go by the commercial success of movies, it is clear that the public now largely supports a certain idea of India that is based on affirmative nationalism, patriotism, pride in our glorious past and trust in our heroes. Such movies are a wake-up call for pseudo-liberals and pseudo-secular people.
If ‘Thackeray’ depicted the leader as he was, then ‘Kaafir’ web series was a great lesson in times of jingoism
National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress
Keeping aside 2019’s mainstream movies, Zee5’s web series Kaafir was the best political commentary of the year. In a time of hyper-nationalism and jingoism, Dia Mirza-starrer Kaafir gives you a realistic view that relationships between nations hinge on sensitivities towards their citizens and on successful diplomacy rather than raw muscularity. And they cannot be guided by principles and the baggage of history. The story is about a Pakistani woman who accidentally lands up in India and is sent to prison. She is released with the help of an Indian lawyer and survives in the prison only because of her cordial Indian inmates.
Abhijit Panse’s ‘Thackeray’, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, was one of the best political movies of 2019. Since the Congress is in an alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, I can comfortably talk about it now. The movie portrayed a non-filtered and an extremely realistic version of Bal Thackeray’s life, focusing on his rebellious nature of politics. It also explored his hobbies, which would be labelled as vices in the political world. In Bollywood movies, lives of politicians are often portrayed by sugar-coating the leader’s image and putting him or her on a pedestal. But Thackeray depicted the politician as he was in real life. You either love it or hate it.
Article 15 was a gut-wrenching, honest film that showed how Indians view caste. Wish there were more
Of all the movies from 2019, my favourite film (both political and otherwise) is Article 15. It is by far the most gut-wrenching film on casteism and the politics of caste and divisiveness that Bollywood has produced. The film, which is set in rural Uttar Pradesh, has disturbing yet realistic visuals. Article 15’s splendid background score only complements the stunning script, which has been penned by Gaurav Solanki and Anubhav Sinha (also the director of the movie).
Ayushmann Khurrana’s earnest portrayal of a helpless police officer is moving as it compels viewers to feel his simmering restlessness with the way the majority of Indians view and perceive caste and social hierarchies. It’s a reminder of the ugly truth of violence and mistreatment against Dalits still prevalent in India and how so many of us are still ignorant about this unavoidable reality.
I truly wish we had more of these political films that deliver such searing truths in an honest way without testing the viewers’ patience.
Article 15 and Gully Boy were the two films that stood out among a sea of other political movies in 2019
The dialogue ‘Main woh mashaal banungi jo har Bharatiya ke andar azaadi ki bhook bankar dehkegi’ (I will become the flame that will burn in the heart of every Indian like hunger for freedom) from Kangana Ranaut’s ambitious Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi can be placed in the countless chest-thumping Bollywood movies in 2019, ranging from Uri: The Surgical Strike to PM Narendra Modi.
Political movies were the flavour of the season in Bollywood 2019, though the politics was often a superficial and perhaps an opportunistic extension of the selfie-taking and slogan-shouting characteristics of its new-found patriots. Manikarnika was a smartly constructed narrative for ‘New India’, covering themes ranging from pride in Hindi language, to women empowerment, to the shaming of collaborators (in this case the Scindias with the English).
But two political films stood out: Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15, with its nuanced understanding of our multiple identities in an increasingly migratory world; and Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, where a young Muslim man uses the power of words and music to make his way out of his inherited destiny.
Uri’s ‘How’s the Josh?’ may well have been the most popular slogan of 2019, but Gully Boy’s ‘Apna Time Aayega’ carried with it the sweat and smell of the disenfranchised and the disadvantaged. Akhtar’s extraordinary study of Murad’s journey foreshadowed the rise of the young men and women on campuses and streets across India towards the end of the year who used poetry to articulate their protests, and countered violence with words.
By Revathi Krishnan, journalist at ThePrint