Justalkin Episode 61: Bombay, Dil Se and other entertainment thrillers that address terrorism
India’s most wanted. The hunt for India’s Osama. A tagline that’s as heavy as it’s the hero. Okay, a tad bit unfair considering Arjun Kapoor can’t seem to catch a break. First, he was typecast as a Gunda in movies like Gunday, Tevar and Ishaqzaade. Next, he had a Chetan Bhagat phase, acting in 2 States and Half Girlfriend, so we can’t decide which one is worse. The trailer for his latest flick ‘India’s most wanted’ is out, and seems a really interesting concept as it talks about a group of people on the hunt for ‘India’s Osama’ without the use of weapons. It’s based on a real-life covert operation, with a little dramatization for the screen, of course. Let’s take a look at other films that deal with terrorism.
One of the finest directors in India, Mani Ratnam, made a film about terrorism at a time when Bollywood was still relying on tried and tested methods. The Bombay riots happened the year Roja released, which was 1992, and Mani Ratnam continued the format of talking about terrorism and politics from the perspective of regular people. So he conceptualised, directed and released it in 1995. He also made a statement with his casting, with the Muslim Nasser playing Arvind Swamy’s Hindu father, and the Hindu Kitty playing Manisha Koirala’s Muslim father. Also a beautiful collaboration between AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam, as always.
Roja and Bombay were followed up by Mani Ratnam's Dil Se, where radio presenter Shah Rukh Khan falls in love with a woman who is the bomb, quite literally. Manisha Koirala plays a suicide bomber. It’s been shot across beautiful locales in Leh, Himachal Pradesh, Bhutan, and Assam. ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’, the iconic train song, was shot in the Nilgiris, with the train being painted brown for this film, and ‘Jiya Jale’ was shot in Kerala. We fathom everything about the movie and its importance, but do we really understand all the lyrics in Jiya Jale?
Body of Lies
‘Penetration’, the book by David Ignatius, was rechristened when they decided to make a movie out of it. It talks about the union of the CIA with Jordanian intelligence to capture an elusive terrorist. What does Body of Lies have in common with Sex and the City 2? Body of Lies was supposed to shoot all the scenes that had to represent Jordan, in Dubai. Sex and the City 2 was largely based on a holiday to Abu Dhabi by the main protagonists. Both movies have controversial themes - political, and edgy. So when Dubai and Abu Dhabi refused permission to shoot, both these films ended up being shot in Morocco.
Whether we are sporting fans or not, the Olympics capture all our attention once in four years. And this is also used by sportspersons to make political statements sometimes, considering it’s one of the biggest sporting platforms in the world. So Palestinian terrorists grabbed the opportunity to gain media attention across the world, by kidnapping and killing Israeli Olympians in the year 1972, during the Munich Olympic games. Very sensitive subject, so it obviously had to deal with a lot of trouble even before release. This doesn’t happen only in India!
Akshay Kumar is now into making films with social messages. But he is one of Bollywood's best action heroes, and one of the latest ones he did was Baby. Neeraj Pandey directed this movie about a special task force that is created to find and eliminate terrorists after the 2008 attacks in Bombay. The movie did really well, and Neeraj Pandey also released a spin-off movie about the origin story of Shabana, one of the characters in Baby. Quite a misleading title, Baby is.
Akshay Kumar also went through a phase where he loved remaking hits from the South. Just like Salman Khan did for a while. One of them was Holiday, a remake of a Tamil film called Thuppakki, which featured Vijay playing the lead. AR Murugadoss shot the Tamil film, and took over directing duties for the Hindi one as well, and considering he is one of the best action movie makers in India, both languages saw this movie becoming a hit.
Madras Cafe is a thriller that takes us to Sri Lanka during the time of their civil war when many different institutions and organizations were trying to establish authority. The movie follows the journey of a RAW agent who is assigned to Jaffna after Indian forces had to withdraw. What’s great about this film is that most Bollywood movies bring in bad guys from Pakistan or the middle east. But Madras Cafe spoke about terrorism down South, and unfortunately, the box office collections went in the same direction.
Kurbaan brought a real-life couple on screen for a story about terrorism. Kareena Kapoor Khan played an academic, and Saif Ali Khan played her husband who is secretly a terrorist. Might’ve been a difficult decision for Saif to play the bad guy but critics didn’t seem to mind. The cast included Kirron Kher, Vivek Oberoi, Om Puri and Dia Mirza playing critical roles. And the most interesting part about this film about Indians and terrorism is that it’s based on the lives of people in the USA, which just shows to go that you cannot take anything for granted when it comes to security. And of all the things in the film, people had a problem with obscenity in some songs. Great priorities!
Terror and terrorism - words we’d all like to stay away from, but need more movies about. Because these give us a reality check and teach us how to appreciate our freedom more. This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com.