Independence Day: The Best of Bollywood’s Patriotic Movies


On the eve of India’s Independence Day (15th of August), I have put together a list of the Best Patriotic Movies in Bollywood. Bollywood has a very strong sense of patriotism. And so, every year the industry sees at least a couple of movies dedicated to India and her freedom fighters as well as ones that instill a sense of pride in viewers through patriotism.

While some of these films actually portray The freedom struggle of India and it’s freedom fighters, others are set in the post Independence era and simmer with a patriotic zeal and pride for the country.

Here’s a list of the Bollywood’s Best Patriotic Movies

Share your own favourites below in the comments….

Shaheed (1948)

A patriotic film about the Indian independence movement. This was one of many nationalist films made during this period which depicted the struggle for Independence. The cap worn by the figure in the center was a symbol of the nationalist movement and instantly reflected the theme of the film.
Starring: Dilip Kumar, Kamini Kaushal.
Directed by: Ramesh Sehgal

Mother India (1957)

In 1947 India gained independence from British rule. The country was caught between the need to modernise and continue the technological advances of the last two decades, and the need to maintain traditional moral values and avoid cultural decline. The most important film of its time and now a national epic, Mother India portrayed rural life as the true ‘essence’ of India. The heroine, Radha, embodied the moral values and social customs that form the basis of traditional Indian society. She stood as a symbol of Indian womanhood and a new independent nation.

This movie was nominated in the “Best Foreign Film” category of the Oscars.
Starring: Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar
Directed by: Mehboob Khan

Haqeeqat (1964)

China may be basking in the Olympics 2008 glory but a part of the Indian consciousness will always see the Chinese with distrust. Nehru who saw China as India’s best friend after independence propagated the Indo-Chin Bhai Bhai (brother). Then the Indo-China war happened in 1962 and an unprepared India was devastated. See this movie to get an idea of the Indian psyche at that time and how a nation lost a war and its faith.
Starring: Balraj Sahni, Dharmendra, Priya Rajvansh, Sanjay Khan, Vijay Anand
Directed by: Chetan Anand

Border (1997)

BORDER takes on an epic tale young men and war. The movie is an adaptation from real life events that happened at the Battle of Longewala fought in Rajasthan (Western Theatre) during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War. It is about how a band of 120 soldiers of the Punjab regiment of the Indian Army headed by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri successfully defended their post all night against a whole Tank regiment of the Pakistani Army, until assistance came from the Indian Air Force the next morning. The young soldiers bond together after a harrowing near-death experience and attempt to pull through by swapping stories of life, love, and family.

The film got critical acclaim and was commercial hit in India.
Starring: Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Pooja Bhatt, Sharbani Mukherjee and Tabu.
Directed by: J. P. Dutta

Lagaan (2001)

A deadly combination of cricket and the rebellion against the British Empire. The movie is set in the Victorian period of the British Raj, and revolves around the peasants from a barren village who are oppressed by high taxes imposed by the British. When the peasants attempt to persuade the officers to reduce the taxes, the officers put forth a proposition to the peasants. One senior officer offers them to cancel their taxes for three years if their village team beats them at cricket. After accepting this proposition, the villagers face the arduous task of learning the game and playing for a result that will change their village’s destiny. This one made it all the way to the Oscars and lost out to No Mans Land. See Aamir Khan as the dashing Bhuvan who also produced this epic.
Starring: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne
Directed by: Ashutosh Gowariker

Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)

Any description of the films in this category would be woefully incomplete without reference to Indian cinema’s fascination with the life and martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, who kissed the British gallows at the tender age of twenty four. His life story has never failed to inspire the masses. Innumerable songs have been composed about him and the youth throughout the country have idolized him. He has been a symbol of bravery and nationalism. The Legend of Bhagat Singh is a biographical Movie on this freedom fighter’s life played by the talented actor Ajey Devgan.
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Raj Babbar, Amrita Rao, Farida Jalal
Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi

Swades (2004)

The movie starring Shahrukh Khan who for the first time came across as an actor and not just a superstar. A successful Indian scientist working at NASA who returns to an Indian village to take his nanny to America with him and in the process rediscovers his roots. Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the issues that development throws up on a grass root level. Director Ashutosh’s masterpiece had all the elements of a patriotic film without resorting to jingoism.
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi
Directed, Written & Produced by: Ashutosh Gowariker

Lakshya (2004)

A film where we first got to see the brilliance of Hrithik Roshan. Essaying a slacker in first half and then an upstanding army officer in the second, Roshan played both sides of the coin flawlessly. Hrithik Roshan plays the role of Lieutenant (later Acting Captain) Karan Shergill, who leads his team to victory over the terrorists. It is a fictional story based on the historical events of the 1999 Kargil Conflict.
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri and Boman Irani.
Directed by: Farhan Akhtar

Rang De Basanti (2006)

Rang de Basanti’ is a film about awakening. About standing up for ones beliefs. Where the spirit of rebellion transcends time and age. A young idealistic English filmmaker, Sue, arrives in India to make a film on Indian revolutionaries Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and their contemporaries and their fight for freedom from the British Raj. Owing to a lack of funds, she recruits students from Delhi University to act in her docu-drama. These youngsters could be anyone of us today and their lives mirror the kind of lives the youth of today lead – namely a self centered and materialistic existence where ideas like patriotism and making a change are strictly the stuff history books are made of.

‘Rang de Basanti’ is a youthful drama, yet light hearted in the moments that the group shares amongst themselves… before some incidents effect a serious change…which ends in the climax.
Starring: Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan, Kunal Kapoor, Siddharth Narayan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni, (British actress) Alice Patten
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Chak De India (2007)

Chak De India is a film which uses field hockey in India and the Indian women’s national field hockey team as metaphors to explore larger themes relating to sexism, ethnic and regional prejudice, and religious prejudice under the larger umbrella of Indian nationalism. It also refers to the legacy of partition.As noted by the Times of India, the central task of the team’s coach is to win the fictional competition, The World Championship, which is:

‘An impossible feat. Because, in the first place, there is no team, just a bunch of girls who have come together with a baggage of class, region and interpersonal rivalries. The small town girls hate the uber snobs; the city-slickers think Chhattisgarh is a jungle, the seniors can’t handle the juniors stealing the limelight and petty camps create a virtual gang-war which even builds into a mutiny against the disciplinarian coach. The only thing that brings them together is gender bias—something they all have faced.’
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Vidya Malvade, Sagarika Ghatge, Chitrashi Rawat, Shilpa Shukla, Tanya Abrol
Directed by: Shimit Amin