Making war movies or literature is not necessarily war mongering. In fact, it can help in managing public opinion for avoiding the war
In recent times, Hollywood movie, adapted from Eric Lomax’s autobiography of the same name, The Railway Man, created a noise. A man tells his story from his capture by the Japanese during World War II, his forced labour on the Thai-Burma Railway right through to his search for justice as a grown man. Star packed film with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman is the rare example of recreating horror and trauma of Prisoners of War (POW), tortured by the Japanese military during the Second World War.
The Railway Man is not an exception. There are at least 90 movies made based on the experiences of soldiers of World War I and II in English, many are real stories, some as fictions, still they shaped the popular consciousness of the US and especially Europe. Their opposition to war or to the hyper-nationalism stems from those war memories and violence depicted through novels and movies in those societies. The Bridge on the River Kwai and Saving Private Ryan are the best examples of the psycho-somatic and strategic situations soldiers go through.
The Cold-War provided with another opportunity to the West to use movie as an instrument to depict technological superiority of the Americans vis-a-vis Russians, their ideological rivalry and ultimate victory of the values and systems Western World stands for. From The Third Man (1949) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962) to War Games (1983) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) the Cold War moves, arms race, spying tactics and technological advancement fascinated writers and movie makers for creative manifestations.
We in Bharat have imitated many good and bad things in the creative field from the West. Not only in stories but this is also clearly visible in technology, music, cinematography and now ways of screening and financing. Somehow neither our writers nor our movie makers got attracted towards this genre.
Agreed, that Western countries, especially Europeans, went through the trauma of World Wars in much bigger way than us. But in both the wars we fought as a British colony and 1,30,000 and at least 2,00,000 soldiers participated in the World War I and II respectively. In the First World War the strategically important city of Haifa in Israel was saved by three cavalry regiments from the Indian Princely States of Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad. Their bravery was recognised by the British by creating statue of Teen Murty just opposite Viceroy House (present Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi). Every year September 23 is celebrated as Haifa Day in their memory. These soldiers have not only fought bravely but also wrote letters about their experiences. But alas, their stories could become part of our popular consciousness.
Even China and Japan use their versions of Wars they fought historically to shape the common minds. 2011 made Flowers of War, the Chinese/American drama and movie based on a real life story of contribution of prostitutes in saving lives of children during the war is a good example of this.
There is a theory that the main reason for British leaving Bharat was the creation of Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) built by Rasbihari Bose and developed by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The historicity of this is still a matter of research but Netaji and his army definitely had a war strategy. Creating anger among the common soldiers against the British government and policies was certainly a part of it. Netaji formed a government in exile at Singapore in 1944 after declaring independence. We certainly made movies and documentaries on the biographical sketch of Netaji but hardly any attempt being made to bring these facts about War Strategy and contribution to our sensitivities through stories or films.
It is known fact that the Cold War involved not just their government strategies but even national psyches, while for us the Non-Alignment and projection as a peace loving country was always paramount. Still we fought four full-fledged wars, one with China and the other three with Pakistan. We have War heroes like Major Shaitan Singh and Havildar Major Abdul Hamid of 1962 wars. Despite the loss to Chinese, the fright created by Gorkha regiment amidst Chinese minds is still a critical factor. Alas, these never could become stories either in words or in motion.
For the name sake, we have movies like Haqiqat and Border and they have made their impact also. But considering the nature of war in 1971 or Kargil war or even the proxy war we have been facing for more than 25 years, we do not have quality books or novels on these plots.
We are certainly a peace loving country. Our culture never taught us about aggression and colonisation. Still to learn from the past mistakes and avoid repeating them in the future, subtle but true historical war movies can play an important role in determining the national consciousness.
We also lack a strategic culture, we eulogise personalities but never analyse their strategies. Chhatrapati Shivaji is the classic example who has been studied as a war strategist in many parts of the world but not in Bharat. Bajirao Peshva is equated with Napoleon by others but we have confined him to Mastani, forgetting that his influence was from Atok in present day Pakistan to Cuttack in Odisha and he did not lose 40 wars at a stretch.
Making war movies or literature is not necessarily war mongering. In fact, it can help in managing public opinion for avoiding war. If we have a culture of understanding strategic issues and tactics through popular mediums like novels or movies, it can certainly help in developing our national consciousness about relations among nations. Hope recently executed Surgical strikes are
inspiring enough for writers and movie makers to depict covert operations through their creations.