Rail change: Hindutva’s film catalog is expanding.

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Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Indresh Kumar’s security detail was a surprise last week when actor Anu Kapoor, along with the producer and director of an upcoming film. I am Deen Dayal, Reached his house in Delhi’s Paharganj to seek his blessings.

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“We are seeking his input for the script, but I am putting my money on it,” says Ranjit Sharma, producer of the film based on the life of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, an ideologue of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh. Party (BJP). He says the new generation should know about Pandit Upadhyay as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies are largely rooted in his ideas. It is directed by Pawan Nagpal who directed it last year. Bal Narayan. The story of a 14-year-old boy inspired by Mr. Modi’s pet Swachh Bharat scheme and how young Narain uses the cleanliness drive to stop the spread of the coronavirus in his village. Coincidentally, Narain takes his name from Swami Vivekananda and sells tea when he is not at school.

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Main Deen Dayal Hoon Among the works is one of several productions that align with the ruling dispensational narrative of Hindutva nationalism. Sutantri Veer Savarkar, a biopic on Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar, in the directorial debut of actor Randeep Hooda, who also plays the titular role, is in production, while I am adamant, Pankaj Tripathi plays the role of BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will hit theaters in December.

Dr. Hedgewara biopic on RSS founder KB Hedgewar, whose Mahurat Applauded by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, this Dussehra will be played in theaters and then screened in villages to prepare the ground for the start of RSS centenary celebrations in 2024.

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is one of the most talked about projects. saffron, A big-budget period drama tracing the roots of the RSS, written by director SS Rajamouli’s father and screenwriter V Vijender Prasad, who has worked in films like Blockbuster. Baahubali And an Oscar nominee RRR, And was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the present BJP government. . Mr. Rajamouli recently said that he cried after reading the script.

Subtle narrative

Filmmakers are no longer following straightforward propaganda films. PM Narendra Modi (2019), from which Mr Modi’s journey was traced. tea man To the Prime Minister, but director Rajkumar Santoshi’s recent film is looking for a more nuanced narrative. Gandhi Godse – A warrior, which explores a fictional reality in which Mahatma Gandhi survives an assassination attempt by Nathuram Godse and interacts with him in prison.

Director-actor Sunny Mandavara as Balgangadhar Tilak in Dr Hedgewar's biopic.

Director-actor Sunny Mandavara as Balgangadhar Tilak in Dr Hedgewar’s biopic. | Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Sunny Mandaura, Director Dr. Hedgewar, It is said that the film will answer the frequently asked question: What was the role of RSS and Dr. Hedgewar in the freedom movement? “The film will capture Dr Hedgewar’s days at Anshilan Samiti. [an early 20th-century underground revolutionary organisation], his tryst with the Congress, his disillusionment with the party after the formation of the Khilafat Movement and the RSS. We have depicted his meetings with Mahatma Gandhi and how the top leadership of the RSS helped. [freedom fighter Shivaram] When Rajguru went into hiding in Nagpur.

Big production houses are also making room for films that fit the Hindutva narrative. While Yash Raj Films produced the Akshay Kumar starrer. Samrat PrithvirajThat sought to revive cultural nationalism, Karan Johar’s Dharma production is researching it. throne, It will feature Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who lost the succession war and was killed in 1659 on the orders of his brother Aurangzeb.

‘drawing a big line’

Bharatiya Chitra Sadhana (BCS) secretary Atul Gangwar says RSS leaders are not against using cinema as a communication tool as long as it promotes the country’s cultural values. The autonomous body is inspired by Sanskar Bharati, a sub-unit of the RSS that works to promote Indian art, fine arts and culture. One of the so-called objectives of this unit was to counter the influence of the left-leaning Indian People’s Theater Association.

According to Mr Gangwar, BCS aims to present Bharat (India) with its cultural values ​​and values ​​through the audiovisual medium through documentaries, feature films, organizing film festivals, and setting up film clubs in educational institutions. to use. “A significant section of Hindi cinema either ignores Indian morals and values ​​or portrays them in a distorted or insulting manner. We are not boycotting films, but we want to draw a big line,” he said. ‘ they say.

Giving an example of Check it out! India, Mr. Gangwar The character played by Shah Rukh Khan in the 2007 sports drama was inspired by former Indian hockey goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi, but was transformed into Kabir Khan, a Muslim, after missing a penalty stroke. Gets kicked out, causing India to face defeat. Pakistan in the World Cup match.

In the 70s and 80s, the film industry got a lot of money from the underworld, which began to reflect in the stories. Our festivals and morals slowly faded away,” says Mr Gangwar. He also credits the success of Mr. Khan’s latest film. Pathan “To those who were worried about the massive booking of screening theatres. Kashmir Files, A film depicting the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 90s. “They wanted to show they could do it,” he says.

In Main Atal Hoon, Pankaj Tripathi plays a strong BJP leader.

I I am adamant, Pankaj Tripathi is playing the role of a senior BJP leader. | Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Sandeep Singh who is the co-producer. Savantira Veer Savarkar, told Hindu At the poster launch that “Savarkar was a misunderstood libertarian who could have saved the partition of the country and a political party kept him out of the cultural narrative.” Supported by qualified producers. PM Narendra Modi And is also co-producing. I am adamant..

Vishnu Sharma, film critic and member of 53 rd The International Film Festival of India jury says the BJP-led central government’s rule has encouraged actors and filmmakers who share the party’s nationalist ideology. “Earlier, he chose to keep quiet, obviously wanting to be in the limelight. Few people know that actor Amrish Puri was a lifetime. Swayam Sevak [RSS worker]. Anupam Kher has spoken out in recent years and now a section of the media has brought out the background of Pankaj Tripathi’s Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Chasing success

Driven by the success of some of the latest projects on Hindutva icons. Kashmir Files, One of the highest grossing films in the country last year.

“Some producers see this as an opportunity to get closer to governance. I don’t know what the outcome of their efforts will be,” says director Chandra Prakash Dwivedi. Samrat Prithviraj, Which has been associated with Sanskar Bharti. . The film was not successful at the box office. “My film suffered partly because it was released after that. Kashmir Files. People expected another Prithviraj. Baahubali And [Muhammad] Ghori is an absolute monster,” he says.

In a polarized society, people want their own version of history that they have learned from social media, says Mr. Dwivedi, adding that his film was true. Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem composed by the king’s court poet Chand Bardai. “I am in a strange position. Those who were against my views were busy digging my grave, now those who seem to share my views are also against me,” says Mr. Dwivedi, who lives in the Ram Mandir. Part of the committee formed by the Trust to make a docu-drama on the history of Ram Janmabhoomi

Political endorsement

The BJP leadership has come out in support of such films. Samrat PrithvirajIn which two BJP-ruled states: Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh offered tax exemptions. Kashmir Fileswhich was made tax-free in six BJP-ruled states, and government employees were given holidays and free tickets to watch the film.

Mr. Dwivedi says political leaders have a history of watching films and endorsing them. “[BJP patriarch] Lal Krishna Advani was present during the screening. [his 2003 film] The cage

Author and film historian Ajay Brahtamaj says that there is no doubt that the left had an influence on Indian cinema for decades after independence. “Now the BJP and the RSS want to use this soft power of cinema to their advantage by building a narrative around their icon ahead of the 2024 elections.”

The problem, they say, is that they currently don’t have the engineers to use this effective tool to build bridges with society. “To think that people who vote for them will necessarily watch such films.” A senior member of the Film Critics Guild recalled that during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule, there was a rise in films that propagated a communal agenda under the guise of nationalism. “It was the time of the Kargil war. Gather (2001) successfully used the emotion of ‘betrayal of neighbour’. This was followed by more funny anecdotes with dialogues like Dood Aam Se Kheer Dhange. Greetings to you mother, 2002) but such films were not well received. this time Kashmir Files Success will result in more clones that will push the cultural and political agenda,” Mr. Bharatmaj said, giving an example. the vaccine war, Vivek Agnethutri’s next film which is slated to release on Independence Day.

RSS spokesperson Sunil Ambekar also denied the role of the organization behind the growing number of films based on Hindutva icons. “Creative people move among ordinary people and pick their stories from society. They must be feeling some change, which is reflected in their stories. There is no need to see politics in everything.

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