On the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day, we take you behind the scenes of some of the most iconic patriotic movies and share some lesser-known facts that will make you proud
From start to finish, the shooting for The Ghazi Attack was completed in both Telugu and Hindi in merely 60 days. However, it was not all smooth sailing as debutant director Sankalp Reddy struggled to put together budgets and a star cast. From his initial 10 lakh rupee budget, Reddy planned to make a film about submarine warfare and release it only to YouTube. However, when Rana Dagubatti joined the cast, everything changed – including the set which had to be increased in height so that the lead actor could fit. The Ghazi Attack is a landmark film surrounding the battle between the PNS Ghazi and the fictitious S21 Indian submarine, inspired by real-life events.
Eight years ago, Chak De India delivered to us one of Shah Rukh Khan’s most powerful performances on the big screen ever. However, did you know that Salman Khan was the first choice for the role? When approached, SRK turned down politely as he was shooting for Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna. Eventually, the producers convinced him to come onboard and the rest is history. Another interesting fact about this movie is that the actors portraying the hockey team had to undergo four months of rigorous training to understand the game and actually play it. Meanwhile, the hockey players had to be given a crash course in the rigors of acting too.
Mangal Pandey: The Rising is a story about a brave sepoy who was credited with starting the uprising of 1857. In the movie, Captain William Gordon plays the role of the chief antagonist, but did you know the role was turned down by Hugh Jackman? Another interesting fact about this movie is that Aamir Khan grew himself a mustache and longer hair as he dislikes wearing wigs and that Prince Charles was an honorary clapper boy when visiting the sets of the movie.
The movie Airlift is based on a real-life incident wherein Indian national airline, Air India was involved in a civilian rescue mission. Air India holds the honour of the civil airline that has evacuated the highest number of people ever from the Guinness Book of World Records. Another interesting fact about this movie is that Akshay Kumar learned Arabic to accurately portray his role as a Kuwaiti businessman.
Did you know that Swades begins with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that says “Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress”. Many believe that Swades is a tribute to Gandhian beliefs and his way of life. Also, the shots of Shah Rukh Khan at the NASA Research Center are actually shot there and the project he is working on is also very much real. The opening credits even thank NASA for allowing the crew to film there.
An iconic movie that was released in 2005, Rang De Basanti broke many stereotypes and canonized the protagonists as relatable young blood who took matters into their own hands when a personal tragedy struck them. But when the director of the movie narrated the script to Aamir Khan, the actor admitted every part of him wanted to say no to the movie. Only after two hours of narration did Aamir Khan finally budge and say yes to the movie. R.Madhavan was not the first choice for the role he portrayed and later made famous!
Sarfarosh is a movie that, to this day, resonates with powerful themes and great performances. Did you know it was the debut film of today’s superstar – Nawazuddin Siddiqui? The film was released in 1999, when tensions between India and Pakistan were at an all-time high during the Kargil war. Director John Matthew also made his debut with Sarfarosh and delivered a movie that was a superhit and is revered to this day!
Chittagong is a movie based around the 1930 Chittagong Uprising. But, did you know that director Bedabrata Pain quit his job at NASA as a scientist to try his hand at film making? Masterda Surya Sen was responsible for kicking the British military out of a town in the 20th Century and that too with the bunch of untrained teenagers leading the line. The film was also shot in a tiny place called Lataguri – which resembles 1930s Chittagong more than the modern city which now resides in Bangladesh.
Lakshya is a movie about finding purpose in life and commitment to your job. But, did you know that many of the non-speaking Army officer and cadet roles were actually played by real-life soldiers of the Punjab Regiment’s 13th Battalion? The movie Lakshya was also the return of Javed Akhtar to script writing after a 14-year hiatus!
A movie that is iconic for the way it rouses patriotic emotions, Border is a timeless classic! Did you know that JP Dutta ran the script by then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, who gave the film his blessing! After the film released, it became the highest grossing film of 1997 and the director bizarrely also received many death threats, leading to two armed bodyguards on duty for the following few months.