Around Independence day, I inevitably start feeling patriotic. And when I do, I turn to Bollywood for sustenance and succor. Honestly, where else would you find true greatness like Dev Anand’s “Peeya hoon main sat mulk ka paani, sabse meetha Hindustani”? Where indeed?
Which is why, in this post, I salute five of my favorite filmi patriots. A disclaimer: Since I am primarily a Hindi film man, I have avoided greats like Balayya in my list (I lack intimate knowledge of his body of work) and for that I apologize. I have also not considered Prabhuji simply for the sake of fairness. After all, everyone deserves a chance.
5. Amrish Puri: Accepted that what crowds the mind when the name Amrish Puri is mentioned has nothing to do with patriotism. Actually the opposite. One thinks of Mogambo of Mr. India and his dildo-inspired missiles of doom. One thinks of Shamoshasha Dong, the Chinese overlord, woman-trafficker and organ-vendor, whose (as the voiceover in “Tahalka” says)“hawas ki haad apne sarhadon se nikal kar Hindustan ke hadon mein ghusne ki koshish main rahee hai”. One thinks of JK-sahab of Shahenshah who drinks Black Dog in honor of the “saikdo kaale kutte” that start barking in his blood whenever he sees “gore titli”.
For me however, Amrish Puri will always be associated with the character he played in Pardes, the great NRI who loves his country so much that he has not let even a bit of internationalism creep into his English accent. I mean, who can ever forget those marvelous lines in which he not only defines the essence of India but also cutely stereotypes another country, to the extent that would make even Danny Boyle and Oprah Winfrey blush:
Mere Amreekan doston, Amrika main pyar ka matlab hain lenden. Lekin Hindustan main pyar ka matlab hain sirf dena… dena… dena. In America, love has its own limitations, its demands. There love is a gesture of give and take. But in India, it is not give and take. In India, It is but give, give and give.
Some unpatriotic morons of course insist that it is this tendency of love-fuelled “dena dena dena” (give give give) that has led us to some problems with population. To those bhok-ing kaale kutte, I wish that a bottle of Black Dog silences them up.
4. Nana Patekar: Patriotism need not always be about love. It can be about anger. And no one does “subaah mirchi ka achar khaya tha kya” better than Nana Patekar.Whether it be the patented move of making a patriotic point by spilling his own blood and then drawing someone else’s (and no Twilight wannabes, he is no telepathic girlie vampire like Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen) and then mixing the two together like an artist does poster color (he does this in Krantiveer as well as in Yashwant) or whether it be angsty rants in Tirangaa at the funeral of Raj Kumar (infintely more powerful than Anthony’s speech at Caesar’s death), or his final spitfire of a speech standing at the gallows in Krantiveer (at one time, he forcibly takes the noose from the hangman in order to kill himself, so infuriated he is), no one quite drives the stake into the heart with a 500 tonne hammer like Nana.
3. Anil Kapoor: For many young men in the 90s, Anil Kapoor is legend, the “I am hairy and I know it” super-hero whose caveman alpha-male charm would attract generations of women, like flies to a flame, often two at a time, as in Andaaz (Juhi and Karishma) and Judaai (Sridevi and Urmila). In Pukar, Anil Kapoor is at his dual-core best, generating fematism (female magnetism) through the current of manliness conducted through the solenoid curls on his body, a force that drives two hot women (Madhuri Dixit and Namrata Shirodhkar) wild with lust, so much so that the scorned one betrays the country. Which is when Anil Kapoor shows that if there is one thing that he loves more than doing Boee Boee Bambam Boee with the ladies , it is India.
In Pukar, Anil Kapoor is like a grenade with the pin taken out, cracking out one uber-patriotic sentence after another. [Video]
Wardee rahe na rahe jis din mujhe desh ka gaddar ka pata chala, cheer doonga (threatening movement of finger)
Humara har jawaan ek nuclear bomb hai
Tere goordein main jitne dam hai utna zor laga le. Hum Hindustani ek hai aur ek hi rahenge.
Arre Kargil ka ek paththar bhi le ja na sake Kashmir ke seb khaane ka sapne dekh rahe ho.
Mere desh ke liye mera jasba mere wardi main naheen, mere yeh rago mein daur rahe hain.
If after this, there is any Indian who can resist taking off the great man’s wardi and gawking at his jasba, then all I can say is that person is obviously not a patriot.
2. Manoj Kumar: The true “Mr. India”, Manoj Kumar is synonymous with patriotism. It was he who informed the world of India’s invention of zero and then illustrated its significance through song in Purab Aur Paschim. Indeed so effective was he that Paschim-loving smoking red-haired Saira Banu saw the error of her ways and even British started singing in chorus amidst randomly moving tables [Video] and even inspired Akshay Kumar to be politely patriotic in Namaste London [Video] . It was he who got Hema Malini to writhe so sensually on the deck of a slave galley ship in Kranti that the British found their muskets firing pre-maturely [Video]. It was he who demonstrated that you do not need implanted cardiac defibrillators to jump-start the heart. All you need are batteries, a cassette player and a recording of Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja. [Video]. As a matter of fact it is whispered that the British have been so traumatized by his continual taking of their case, that when a boxer named Manoj Kumar was beating the ass off a British boxer, they made sure he lost. By means that were, to put it mildly, controversial. [Link]. Just so that they can have the joy of having defeated Manoj Kumar. Hah.
Zero you are Team Great Britain.A great big zero.
By the way, you do know who invented zero, don’t you?
1. Sunny Deol: True story. The 90s. I am watching Border in a single-screen theater, packed to the rafters. Towards the end, epic music starts. Blood starts pumping. Jackie Shroff takes off in his plane to do Mausichi to the enemy.
And just then, Sunny Deol’s voice thunders “Woh kahete hain ki nashta Jaisalmer mein karenge, aaj naashta hum unka karenge”.
Lump in throat. Now there he is, charging towards the Pakistanis with a howitzer on his shoulder.
All control lost. The whole crowd, me included, explodes.
Hindustan Hindustan. Hindustan Meri Jaan.
When movie ends, my heart is beating like it has run a marathon, my eyes are tearing up with emotion. So inspired am I that I feel like charging Pakistan with my bare hands.
Of course that was not possible. So I do the next best thing. Have something to eat at the concession stand, imagining myself to be digesting the enemy Sunny Paaji style (By the way, I firmly believe that the scene in Border (1997) where Sunny Deol has given up and shoots the tank just before it gets bombed from above has uncanny resemblance to “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). Of course, since it is Spielberg, it is a co-incidence)
But his greatest work, just barely pipping Border, will remain Gadar.
To quote what I had once written about it. [Link]
Tara Singh (Sunny Deol) has come to Pakistan to bring back his wife Sakeena to Hindustan when her evil father played by Amrish Puri (he is after all Pakistani) decides to convert Tara Singh to Islam. First, in front of a crowd of Pakistanis who look like they are straight out of a Taliban training camp, he makes Tara agree to become a Muslim. He does. The crowd cheers. Then he makes him say Pakistan Zindabad. He does so. The crowd cheers once again.
And then he asks Tara Singh to say Hindustan Murdabad.
Big mistake. Big fucking mistake.
Tara Singh bellows in a voice that can be heard from Rawalpindi to Lahore.
Hindustan zindabad the, zindabad hai aur zindabad rahega.
As the crowd looks on stunned, Tara Singh further thunders:
Agar main bibi bacchon ke liye sar jhuka sakta hoon, to main sab ke sar kaat bhi sakta hoon.
Within seconds, the evil Pakistanis starts running towards him thinking they can finish him off.
Big mistake. Big fucking mistake number two.
Sunny Deol with his bare Jatt hands yanks out a handpump from the ground. One Pakistani comes rushing in. Within seconds he is airborne. Another attains escape velocity a second later. And so it goes on as Sunny Deol with one handpump fights off a city full of Pakistanis, in a display that would make Neo of Matrix say “He, not me, is the chosen one.”
In the meantime, Isaac Newton comes in to say “Bete this is against my first, second and third laws.” Sunny cracks Newton’s ribs and says “Phir se bol?” And just for fun he reverse-slaps Einstein and yanks off his mustache with an earth-shaking “m c square naheen, m c round hai” .
Coming back to Gadar, Sunny-paaji boards a truck with his wife, kid and cleaner and they start driving for the border. The Pakistanis hurl grenades at the truck. And the one thing you don’t do is to mess with a puttar’s truck, specially one that has been fitted with anti-mortar armor in Ludhiana. A series of grenades detonate on the lorry but nothing happens to it. Several cars come in front of the marauding truck though and they are ma-behened. Soon of course the entire Pakistani army is behind Sunny-paaji. No matter. All he has to do is to scream and their First Division is in full retreat. Soon their President is asking for three billion dollars in non-military aid from Obama and our Prime Minister is weakly capitulating in Sharm El Sheikh.
Legend. Pure legend.