By R. Balashankar
For those who claim that Bollywood is moving away from our national moorings, Pratibha Advani’s cinematic bouquet of nationalist films ‘Ananya Bharati – A Cinematic Tribute to the Motherland’ is a resounding rebuff. Indian cinema has kept pace with times: it has reflected the changing social mores as it cannot entirely cast off global norms, and most of all, the Hollywood underpinnings.
But as the world cinema, in their regional, national expressions are also quite a reflection of the political milieu, their themes manifest the requirements of their land, of their origin, like on communism, World War, Cold War, colonial politics and racial conflicts. Indian cinema in general and Bollywood in particular, has always risen to the nationalistic needs of the times we live in. This is the thread of the visual essay Pratibha Advani has scripted.
The one-hour documentary is unique in concept, commentary and content. The themes of this documentary are divided into three sections covering the time span 1980 to 2005, but also very briefly gleaning into the early years of Hindi cinema, when it encountered the Chinese aggression and the newly independent nation’s clamour for development and technology as in ‘Naya Daur’ and ‘Purab aur Paschim’.
Beauty of the visual narrative is in keeping the viewer on tenterhook, the breezy style in telling how Indo-Pak relations, border problems, futility of terrorism, Kashmir trouble, brain drain, Partition and freedom struggle found their patriotic surrealism in the celluloid world.
Indian cinema in general and Bollywood in particular, has always risen to the nationalistic needs of the times we live in. This is the thread of the visual essay Pratibha Advani has scripted. The one-hour documentary is unique in concept, commentary and content.
Pratibha says that cinema and patriotism have been her two passions. In ‘Ananya Bharati’ she has mixed the two to create a scintillating brew of mesmerising impact. There are shots from 40 films, out of a short-listed 80. Several celebrity film personalities have given the ‘I love India’ call in the film towards the beginning and in the end. The powerful presentation of Vande Mataram by A.R. Rehman has some exclusive, never-seen-before shots, in the Siachen location.
She has been working on the theme for about a year. The film, which was also telecast on Doordarshan on Republic Day eve, was screened for a select audience for three days on the lawns of 30, Prithviraj Road, the residence of the BJP president and leader of the Opposition, Shri L.K. Advani. It was an occasion for people from all shades of the political spectrum, top-notch industrialists and film personalities to converge and share some time in undiluted tribute to the motherland. The mood and atmosphere was created by a splurge of tricolour and warm hospitality of the host. There was a vibrant mix of songs, dialogue and narrative along with poignant visuals. Among those who viewed and commended the film were Atal Behari Vajpayee, Somnath Chatterjee, I.K. Gujral, Shivraj Patil, Sharad Pawar, C.S. Stawal, Amar Singh, Air Marshal Arjan Singh, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, Sunil Dutt, Suresh Oberoi, Shiv Khera, and Lt. Gen. (Retd.) J.F.R. Jacob.
Every nation has its cinema playing a role in dissemination of ideology, social themes and development issues. The communists in the fifties, in a big way, strategically took to the celluloid medium to spread their message and many front-ranking film personalities, at least in Kerala and West Bengal, belonged to that school. However, there was no organised effort by the nationalists to use this popular medium for ideological propagation.
Pratibha’s is the first conscious effort to anchor entertainment on a patriotic, emotional mosaic with the verve of a master craftsperson. And she has immensely succeeded in delivering this message. This is a timely makeover for the Indian cinema.
Tight editing, gripping introduction, swift-moving clips, classification of cinematography content, made it excellent viewing. It is a painstaking study and a powerful critique of Indian cinema.
After seeing the film, Shri Sunil Dutt, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, said, “Bollywood does not enjoy a good image among the masses. But this film will give a new image about our movie industry.”
Visual medium is the best communication technique of the new century. ‘Ananya Bharati’, can undoubtedly qualify as a must see for all Indians, particularly in schools and institutions, engaged in training people in nation building.