Understanding Freedom

The word freedom has different connotation for people. The meaning of freedom varies from one culture to another. Some of the recent Bollywood films have redefined freedom in contemporary India. Here are some of the best ideas propelled by Hindi cinema.

India is at the cusp of change. In the 70th year of Independence, we continue to fight many battles of cultures, perceptions and attitudes. However, fresh ideas and aspirations are taking over ambitious Indians, lending a new definition to an individual’s liberty. Cinema is perhaps an instrumental mirror to reflect that shift. Some of the films released in the past few years elucidate our complexities, challenges of modern era and how we are adjusting in an ever-evolving society. Take a look:

Pride & Prejudice

More than her ability to learn the global language of English and therefore impress her metropolitan kids and husband, Sridevi’s character in her comeback vehicle English Vinglish accomplishes what an ordinary middle class housewife would or should aspire to do. Taking a break from her family, she embarks upon a fascinating journey in a foreign land. Secretly, she enrolls in an English course, hangs out with new friends and even discovers her entrepreneurial skills. A new set of challenges in her life in the West metamorphoses her into a confident woman, who regained her lost glory and esteem. She finds her purpose, repute and dramatically kills all complexes of her life. Many were inspired by Sridevi’s character and sought respect and recognition for their contribution in their families.

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Being Single

Which middle class girl would have thought of honeymooning alone before Queen? But Kangana Ranaut made it happen. A simple girl from Delhi’s Rajouri Garden who dreamt of a romantic married life, Rani, as played by Ranaut, is ditched by her husband-to-be a day before their wedding. Instead of drowning in grief, she decides to go ahead with a planned international trip. Ultimately, she won a million hearts on her voyage to self-discovery. From being submissive to somebody who could take decisions of her life, Rani came as a revelation on screen for the audience. Much like Sridevi in English Vinglish, she too rediscovers herself and looks at life beyond marriage.

Rebel in Youth

In Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, a meek and self-effacing college boy turned into a rebellious music sensation. Though the story revolved around Ranbir Kapoor’s obsession with his lady love played by Nargis Fakhri, the film struck a chord among youth for its provocative nature. From music to the characterisation, the film was quite bold to challenge popular sentiments. Sadda Haq and Nadaan Parinde became the youth’s anthem. Kangana Ranaut’s daring avatar in Tanu Weds Manu as well as in its sequel was devoid of any social baggage. She would drink casually, roam in a towel loftily in her house and even went on to shake a leg in her husband’s next marriage.

Blind Faith

In times where religious and spiritual gurus have been involved in unbelievable scams and rackets, films like OMG! and PK challenged blind faith. These slices of life comedies encapsulated strong messages to the public.

Difference in Ability

Disability is a frame of mind or just a label created by society. Some of the films in this genre came up with a variety of messages and offered a fresh perspective towards the disabled. In Taare Zameen Par, Aamir Khan discovers an artist in a dyslexic boy struggling in academics. The film moved the audiences to tears with a clear message: every child is unique and hence, should not be judged just on the parameter of academics.

Iqbal was a story of how a mute and deaf boy became a cricketer despite several roadblocks. On the other hand, Kalki Koechlin’s Margarita With A Straw forced a lot of people to reorient their attitude towards people with different needs. Kalki played the character of Laila, a wheelchair-bound girl with dreams just like us. The film also highlighted how urban infrastructure affects them.

Unity in Diversity

India’s strength lies in its diversity. A group of women hockey players from different states were mercilessly taught the idea of ‘one India’ by Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India. Result? A glorious victory. The movie holds much relevance in bringing people together.

Deal of Fertility

Indian families are too sentimental about ‘having kids’. In such a society, adoption or using advanced methods to produce a child is unusual. But Vicky Donor proved otherwise as it became the first film to highlight concepts like IVF and sperm donation.

Change the System

Is Gen Next complacent about hard-earned independence by fighters? Is the youth not patriotic enough? Are we not bothered about politics, corruption or future of this nation? All these questions and much more were ferociously explored by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in Rang De Basanti. Post the film’s release, there were several discussions involving youth on finding a way to improve the plagued system.

Written by Karan Bhardwaj

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