Hindi cinema (a.k.a. popularly known as Bollywood) produces extravagant escapist romantic films in large numbers on a regular basis but, not many films based on politics (major reason being the volatility of the subject “Politics” itself”). Fortunately, though over the years there have been a few directors in Hindi cinema that have had the courage to direct movies based on politics. So here is my list (not in any particular order) of top ten Bollywood movies based on the fascinating subject of politics
1. Maachis- Gulzar
“Match sticks” is what “Maachis” a sensitive movie based on the issue of terrorism in the state of Punjab directed by the Gulzar literally means. Set during the Sikh insurgency that affected state during the 1980’s this movie sensitively portrays the sudden metamorphosis of a simple young man to a wanted terrorist. It also deals with the reasons behind why the youth of Punjab chose the path of violence during this period.In addition, this movie is brilliantly directed by Gulzar, and is aided by superlative music composed by Vishal Bhardwaj, and magnificent performances by cast and crew especially by Tabu , Chandrachur Singh, and Om Puri. Overall, this movie is an intriguing and highly engaging watch especially for all those cinema buffs interested in understanding the “cause and the brutal effects” of political power abuse.
2. Satta- Madhur Bhandarkar
Literally meaning “Power” is the 2003 Madhur Bhandarkar directed political drama film “Satta”. Starring Raveena Tandon and the ever brilliant Atul Kulkarni. This movie deals with the meteoric rise of a corrupt politician’s wife from a middle class girl to a full fledged politician. It also shows the “political machinations” that are commonly used in the corridors of power. The gritty performance by “ravishing” Raveena, the mesmerizing performance by Kulkarni, and brilliant direction by realistic filmmaker Bhandarkar makes this movie a pure cinematic delight. Above all it reiterates the fact that “The world of politics is all about the lust for power”.
3. HU TU TU- Gulzar
Directed by Gulzar “Hu Tu Tu” which refers to “Kabaddi” an Indian traditional sport, is yet another high class Bollywood political drama. This high voltage drama comprises of “political corruption” that exists in the Indian system at its worst. It also reveals the corrupt nexus that exists between industrialists and politicians. In addition, great direction by Gulzar and the sparkling performances by the ever brilliant Tabu, the intense Nana Patekar, and the outstanding Suhasini Mulay make it an engaging watch. Most importantly it tells us that “business” interests will always be given first priority in the world of politics.
4. Shanghai- Dibakar Banerjee
Based on a famous novel “Z” written by Greek novelist Vassilis Vassilikos, “Shanghai ” is a “political masterpiece” directed by a maverick filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee. This movie is essentially a political thriller that revolves around the assassination of an anti-establishment socialist. It also exposes the levels of corruption that exists in a bureaucratic set up within any democracy. This movie is extremely well directed by Banerjee and possesses great performances by Kalki Koechlin, Abhay Deol, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Farook Sheikh, Supriya Pathak and Emraan Hashmi thereby making it highly watchable. More crucially it tells us that in any democratic set up, corruption lies within the system itself.
5. Gulal- Anurag Kashyap
The tagline “Love…. Power Revolution” quite aptly describes the movie “Gulal” directed by the “master of visuals” Anurag Kashyap. It deals with concepts such as lust for power, and quest for legitimacy within the political world. Furthermore, it also deals with the “hypocrisy” that tends to exist within the confines of a society belonging to the powerful. Supported by magnificent performances by “genuine” artists such as Kay Kay Menon and Piyush Mishra and great direction by Anurag Kashyap this movie is an intense political drama that highlights the fact that the political world is essentially based on “hypocrisy”.
6. Black Friday-Anurag Kashyap
Based on the conspiracy behind the 1993 Bombay blasts case, “Black Friday” is an extremely stylized political drama directed by Anurag Kashyap. This movie is inspired from a book written by veteran crime journalist Hussain S Zaidi possessing the same title. It reveals the involvement of wanted terrorist (according to US State Department of Treasury) Dawood Ibrahim, and the role that the ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) the notorious Pakistani secret agency played in the blasts. The splendid performance of the entire cast that includes Kay Kay Menon as Rakesh Maria, Pawan Malhothra as Tiger Menon, Aditya Shrivastav as Badshah Khan, and Vijay Maurya as Dawood himself makes it not only an engaging watch but, also provides an “insider’s view”.
7. Madras Cafe- Shoojit Sarcar
The political conspiracy behind the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 is what the Shoojit Sarcar movie “Madras Cafe” is all about. Furthermore, it also reveals the role of a “foreign power” in the assassination. In addition, it also briefly explains the functioning of the “espionage world” which is filled with “deceit”. Decent performances from lead actor John Abraham and the supporting cast, some good action sequences along with fine direction from Sarcar makes this movie a “thrilling watch”. What this movie also shows is, that in the “world of espionage”anything is possible.
8. Raajneeti- Prakash Jha
Inspired by the epic “Mahabharata”, the movie Raajneeti directed by the politically aware Prakash Jha is based on “family politics” . The essence of this movie considered to be Jha’s magnum opus lies in the epic Mahabharata and deals with the battle for power within a political family. In addition, this movie also highlights human emotions such as lust for power and greed and also touches upon issues such as “the illegitimate child” and its repercussions on a family. Supported by outstanding performances especially by Ranbir Kapoor and Manoj Bajpai, and competently directed by Jha this power packed political drama proves the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s belief that ” Man is by nature a political animal” to be very true.
9. Yuva- Mani Ratnam
Yuva, is the 2004 Mani Ratnam movie based on student politics set in the “City of Joy” i.e. Kolkata. This movie essentially talks about how one accident on the “Howrah bridge” ensures that the lives of three young men belonging to different strata’s of society converge. It is also supported by superlative performances from entire start cast especially Abhishek Bachchan, and the story is creatively told by Mani Sir (lovingly referred to as) using a “hyperlink format” (i.e. multiple stories in a movie that interconnect). More importantly this movie lays emphasis on the youth “becoming the change they want to see within the political system”.
10. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi- Sudhir Mishra
There are very few good movies in Hindi cinema that deals with the “Naxal movement”, and one such very well crafted movie is the Sudhir Mishra directed Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. This movie talks about the rise of the Naxal movement in India, and its effects on the lives of three independent thinking individuals.Furthermore, it also talks about how the youth belonging to a privileged background are the ones that intend to fight the system to bring about a significant change in the society while, those belonging to fairly modest ones want to be pragmatic, stay in the system, and manipulate it to progress in life. Backed up by brilliant performances from Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja, and Chitrangada Singh and directed skillfully by Mishra this movie is a stark reminder that change in the world of politics is just an “illusion”.
So, here is my list of top 10 Bollywood movies that are based on politics. I am hoping that you (my readers) thoroughly enjoy this article as much as I have loved writing it. HAPPY READING.