I don’t think patriotic films have faded away. Ashutosh Gowariker recently made such a film – Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. But today’s youngsters do not connect with such films, so you have to use patriotism as the backdrop. When I made Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, for instance, I made it as a love story set in the time of partition. In Rang De Basanti, the fight is against corruption, with patriotism in the background. To connect with today’s audience, you have to do something like that.
The truth is, we have very different problems today – inflation, corruption, rape and many others – and today’s films are doing a good job of dealing with these issues.
I am sure a good film by a good director with a good script on patriotism would do really well. But you need to have a really good story to tell.
Films are a reflection of the times. At one point, we were fighting for our freedom and then fighting to protect our borders and so a lot of patriotic films were made. As we moved on and moved ahead, films began to be based on the events and issues of our evolving society. According to me, any film that reflects a current theme in our society is a patriotic film.
We have moved on from patriotism today. We are dealing with so many internal disturbances that the meaning of independence and patriotism have changed. So today you see films on corruption, political thrillers or stories set on current issues and concerns. If you made a film on patriotism now, I am not sure how the youth would connect with it. Patriotism means love for your country, but today we are struggling to change the system for the love of our country.
I partly agree that some films revolving around the freedom struggle and patriotism, including Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, did not do well. Top filmmakers also are not excited about making such films and one cannot expect new directors to make such difficult films with ease. But it’s unfair to say that patriotic films will not be accepted by the masses, because Rang De Basanti did well.
Currently, the trend is to make entertaining films. Hardcore commercial films are the preferred genre. But we might look into the genre if we chanced upon a good script.