Of late, filmmakers have been veering towards themes based on nationalism with a patriotic film in-between. They like to cater to popular tastes. This audience’s taste is determined by a lot many things, the chief among them being the prevalent national mood. And that national mood, again, is what gives a film ready acceptance. A film needs to reflect the mood of the masses, which then at once identify with the film.
All nationalism may not always work. Especially so when it is a chapter out of Indian history at the time of the Mughals. As per the texts made familiar to us, there were no Indian heroes; they just fought and lost. At best, they merit a two-page mention in primary schools. People readily believe in the ‘Mahabharat’, but not so when it comes to the tales of the valour of kings and ‘samrats’!
We now have this film, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, with the tagline, ‘Aakhari Hindu Samrat’ (The Last Hindu Emperor). The only king who has been identified as the protector of Hindu ways was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Never knew or learnt of that tag being used for Prithviraj Chauhan. The stakes are high. You can’t bet solely on an actor’s charm. Hinduism is in the air, so might as well use it for a little flavour!
Akshay Kumar, actress Manushi Chillar and the film’s director, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, are out on the pilgrimage circuit, doing the Ganga ‘aarti’ and praying at the Somnath temple with pictures being flashed all over the media. These remind me of our school days and the temple run before the exams and then the results! As things look now, nationalism and Hinduism are being blended.
More than religion, the ritual of performing a mahurat for a film’s launch was a tradition. Garlanding the clapper board and the camera being the things to do. It was a tradition and have nothing to do with religion because it was an industry norm and therefore all filmmakers followed it, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, or from any other belief.
Yes, some filmmakers did take a reel from the completed film to Mata Vaishno Devi or the Shirdi Sai Baba temple, or the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, or to Ajmer Sharif for blessings. but that was a matter of personal belief.
But no maker went on a pilgrim circuit to promote a film, or to appeal to the sentiments of viewers, least of all film stars. Once completed, a film was the producer’s baby.
–By Vinod Mirani