Politics

Dilip Kumar’s ‘Leader’ Was Bollywood’s First Film Based On Politics – Part 1

Politics and Bollywood Films have a bond since the inception of Bollywood. Though in the early ’40s, before Independence due to British censorship filmmakers used it in a subtle manner to skip the censor board. Like in the hit film Kismet (1943) the song Door hato aye duniya walon Hindustan Hamara Hai…’ was used to ignite patriotism to join quit India movement. In this song there is a stanzaShuru hua hai jung tumhara jag utho Hindustani/Tum na kisi kea age jhunkna German ho ya Japani …. It was an indirect reference to the British government! The song was so popular that it used to be screened 2-3 times in cinema halls on public demand and the audience would stand up and sing the song in the chorus! The movie was such a big hit due to this song that the film ran for 200 weeks in a cinema in Kolkata!!

Later the First film that really exposed the corrupt face of politics was Dilip Kumar‘s film Leader (1964). And what’s interesting is that the ‘novel’ script was not penned by a professional story writer but it was written by actor Dilip Kumar. It was the first script and after that, he wrote the story of Ganga Jamna but unlike Ganga Jamna, Leader was not produced by Dilip Kumar it was produced by S. Mukherjee. Based on the theme of a socially active ‘law’ student who exposes corrupt leaders in his newspaper, the story takes a twist when the corrupt political leaders ‘trap’ the innocent hero into the murder of nation’s populist leader. The movie was lavishly mounted with advanced technologies like Technicolor and Cinemascope. However, the movie was not super hit but was a semi-hit. Film critics feel the story was far ahead of its time.

Thus after Leader for 5 to 6 years, no filmmaker dared to make a film on politics until filmmaker Gulzar used the subject of educated unemployed exploited by politicians in the film Mere Apne (1971). In this film, Gulzar showed the government’s apathy for the youth of the nation. The film showed how powerful politicians create violence in college and used the college students for their own selfish goals by using them to capture votes during elections. Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha played the gang leaders of rival groups who are puppets of local politicians. The film was a huge hit.

Soon after the success of Mere Apne, famous write Inder Raj Anand who wrote hit films like C.I.D., Sangam and Safar, etc wrote a political thriller Apna Desh (1972) starring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. This was the first film that depicted a rise of a common man becoming a Clean Corporator of his ward and how he eliminates corruption formed the climax of the film. The film was hit.

In 1973 filmmaker M.S. Sathyu‘s Garam Hawa won both national and International acclaim for its brilliant portrayal of Muslim’s plight in India after the assignation of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The film exposed how Indian Muslims were forced to move to Pakistan. However, a loyalist Muslim Salim Mirza (Balraj Sahni) fights the battle and stays back in India despite humiliation and atrocities. The movie made an important political statement for Indian Muslims that running away to Pakistan is no solution but to join Indian politics and fight for rights is the real solution.

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