In recent times, filmmakers have leaned towards themes based on nationalism with a patriotic film in between. They like to cater to popular tastes. The tastes of this audience are determined by many things, chief among them being the prevailing national mood. And that national vibe, again, is what gives a movie ready acceptance. A film should reflect the mood of the masses, who immediately identify with the film.
Not all nationalism always works. Especially when it comes to a chapter of Indian history during the time of the Mughals. According to the texts which have been made familiar to us, there were no Indian heroes; they just fought and lost. At best, they deserve a two-page mention in elementary schools. People readily believe in ‘Mahabharat’, but this is not the case when it comes to the tales of the valor of kings and ‘samrats’!
Now we have this movie, “Samrat Prithviraj”, with the tagline “Aakhari Hindu Samrat” (The Last Hindu Emperor). The only king who was identified as the protector of the Hindu ways was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. I never knew or learned that this label was used for Prithviraj Chauhan. The stakes are high. You can’t rely solely on the charm of an actor. Hinduism is in the air, might as well use it for a little flavor!
Akshay Kumar, actress Manushi Chillar and the film’s director, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi are on the pilgrimage circuit, doing Ganga ‘aarti’ and praying at Somnath temple with images showing in all media. These remind me of our school days and the temple run before exams and then results! As things stand, nationalism and Hinduism merge.
More than religion, the ritual of performing a mahurat for the launch of a film was a tradition. Garlanding the clapper board and the camera being the things to do. It was a tradition and it had nothing to do with religion because it was an industry standard and so all filmmakers followed it, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or any other belief.
Yes, some filmmakers brought a reel of the finished film to Mata Vaishno Devi or Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, or Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, or Ajmer Sharif for blessings. but it was a matter of personal conviction.
But no director has gone on a pilgrimage to promote a film or to appeal to the feelings of viewers, let alone movie stars. Once completed, a film was the producer’s baby.
–By Vinod Mirani