Shah Rukh Khan
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I-Day patriotic film festival: Aamir, SRK films lead the charge..


Actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan’s views on ‘intolerance’ in India may have earned them brickbats in real but their patriotic reel avatars--as the cricketer Bhuvan fighting the British empire and women’s hockey coach Kabir Khan--are the government’s pick to reignite nationalistic sentiment this Independence Day.

To mark the 70th Independence Day, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is organising a festival (August 12-18) of patriotic films, which will open on Friday with Richard Attenborough’s classic Gandhi.

Both Shah Rukh and Aamir faced severe backlash from right-wing organisations after they expressed concern over rising intolerance in India and feared the muzzling of free speech and dissent.

Read: Never said India is intolerant, was born here and will die here, says Aamir

Shah Rukh was quoted to have said “religious intolerance and not being secular…is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot”, Aamir, on the other hand, was flayed for speaking about a “sense of insecurity” owing to intolerance in the country, and said his wife Kiran Rao’s was apprehensive about the future of their child in India.

The week-long festival to be screened at the Sirifort Auditorium will have audiences reconnect with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Veer Savarkar and revisit the India-China war of 1962 with Chetan Anand’s Haqeeqat and JP Dutta’s Border based on the Battle of Longewala during the India-Pakistan war of 1971.

Also on the list are ‘heroes’ that the NDA government thinks have not been adequately celebrated. It has chosen Shyam Benegal’s Subhash Chandra Bose --The Forgotten Hero and Chitrath’s Shaheed Udham Singh for screening.

Jabbar Patel’s Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar and Veer Savarkar, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar, S Ram Sharma’s Shaheed based on Bhagat Singh will also be screened.

The festival is being organised in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s instruction to involve the “people of the nation” in the celebration and is part of the larger commemorative programme that will include showcasing the might of the three armed forces, and food and cultural festivals that capture India’s diversity.

Manoj Kumar, the poster boy of patriotic films in India, who was recently, conferred the highest film honour the Dadasaheb Phalke will be seen as Bharat in his directorial venture Upkar.

The festival is not limited to being a throwback to the yesteryears. For the younger generation there is patriotism showcased through sports in films; they will get to watch Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom throw punches and Shreyas Talpade’s emotive portrayal of a hearing and speech impaired cricketer’s struggle to join the Indian team in Iqbal, Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan and Shah Rukh’s Chak De India.

The ministry has written to several educational institutions to encourage their students to attend the festival.

Regional representation has been taken care of through the selection of VR Panthalu’s Veerapandiya Kattabomman IV, Sasi’s Ayirathi Thollayirathi Irupathi Onnu, Hemen Gupta’s ‘Anandmath based on Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s eponymous novel. Nationalism, uprisings against the British empire is the theme of most of these films.