India and China’s newfound appetite for war films

Amid the Doklam standoff and repeated ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border, over half a dozen Indian movies based on the themes of war and patriotism are in the making

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Ashutosh Sharma

Guns blazing, bombs exploding, racing cars and rumbling war tanks - everything wrapped in chest-thumping Chinese patriotism and tied with the testosterone, adrenaline-driven machismo that characterises Han chauvinism. Set in a war-torn African country, Wolf Warrior 2 is a movie that boasts to kill “anyone who offends China no matter how far the target is.”

It’s being dubbed as a “salute to the 90th anniversary” of PLA’s foundation. And in just two weeks of its release, Wolf Warrior 2 has become the highest-grossing movie ever in China. According to a Forbes report, it has earned a whopping 3.88 billion Yen or around $570 million dollars in China. The main protagonist in the movie, played by Wu Jing, is being seen there as a home-grown version of Hollywood’s Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone.

Interestingly, China’s media regulator has stopped the entry of Hollywood blockbuster Dunkirk, a Christopher Nolan film about British, French and Belgian troops evacuating the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk, in Operation Dynamo, in 1940. Some are saying that this was done to assure the commercial success of Wolf Warrior 2.

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
Upcoming film Operation Khukri is supposed to be India’s answer to Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful Dunkirk.

Amid the Doklam standoff and repeated ceasefire violations along India-Pakistan border, which have been fuelling jingoism and whipping up war hysteria, over half a dozen Indian movies based on the themes of war and patriotism are in the making. Incidentally, some of these upcoming movies are based on military operations against Pakistan and China.

Coming close on the heels of a blizzard of action-packed movies such as Hind Ka Napak Ko Jawab - MSG Lion Heart – 2, The Ghazi Attack and Raag Desh—which show Indian Army fighting Pakistani soldiers and militants, a string of over half a dozen war movies are scheduled to be released next year.

Even though there’s an impressive body of movies based on war and patriotism in India, but this is perhaps for the first time that there is a considerable jump in the production of a number of such movies.

In the desi remake of Rambo, which is a remake of Sylvester Stallone's iconic film of the same name, actor Tiger Shroff is all set to play an Indian version Sylvester Stallone. PTI, in a report, quoted Tiger Shroff as saying that the film is a ‘tribute’ to the Hollywood legend.

A directorial venture of Siddharth Anand, who has previously helmed Bang Bang, a remake of 2010 Hollywood filmKnight And Day, Indian Rambo is all set to hit the screens by the end of 2018.

Red Chillies production house, in association with Azure Entertainment, has been researching Operation Khukri on which their next project will be based. Mounted on a huge budget, the film is a celebration of the unsung heroes of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force who participated in the operation.

This upcoming movie is being viewed as an Indian answer to Dunkirk which, according to Indian critics, has ignored Indian soldiers. In France, at least 1,800 Indian soldiers, according to military historians, fought in battle zones that weren’t accessible by vehicles. As many as 2.5 million soldiers from the Indian sub-continent, they write, served with the Allied army during World War II.

JP Dutta, known for making war films like the National Award-winning Border and LoC has come up with his next war drama titled Paltan. There are rumours that the movie will have real Army men which is based on the 1962 Indo-China war. It is slated to be released in 2018.

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
Based on India’s successful nuclear tests in Pokharan, Parmanu is yet another patriotic film to be released in 2018.

Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, is another such upcoming Hindi film, directed by Abhishek Sharma and produced by Zee Studio in association with JA Entertainment and Kriaj Entertainment. It features John Abraham in lead role. The movie is based on successful nuclear tests conducted by India in Pokhran in Rajasthan. It is slated for box office release on December 8, 2017.

Raazi, produced by Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions, is Meghna Gulzar’s next directorial after Talvar. It is based on Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat. The espionage thriller revolves around a Kashmiri girl, played by Alia, married to an Army officer across the border, who gathers and provides information to the Indian Intelligence during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

A biopic on Subedar Joginder Singh, who died as Prisoner of War in Chinese custody and was awarded the highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra, is in the making. The movie is based on the exceptional courage and valour of Subedar Joginder Singh who commanded a platoon at Bumla, Tawang, in the Indo-China war of 1962. The movie is said to be first ever war movie of the Punjabi film industry. It will be released on the next Independence Day.

To recreate war on silver screen, many filmmakers are taking their cue from The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is an upcoming biographical film about the life of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. It is being directed by Krish and produced by Zee Studios in association with Kamal Jain. It is co-produced by Nishant Pitti.

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
Poster of the upcoming film on the Rani of Jhansi, Manikarnika

The film is based on the Rani Laxmibai’s war against the British East India Company during 1857. Kangana Ranaut plays the title role of Rani Laxmibai. It is scheduled for release on April 27, 2018.

Another upcoming Indian period drama film, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is Padmavati. It is being jointly produced by Bhansali and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. The film is a fictionised account of the life of Rani Padmini, a legendary queen mentioned in Padmavat, an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

According to Padmavat, she was the wife of Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the ruler of Mewar. In 1303, Alauddin Khilji, the Turkic ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, laid siege to the Chittor Fort in Rajputana. Khilji led the invasion motivated by his desire to capture Rani Padmini, according to the poem.

And finally, riding high on the success of Baahubali—which shattered all the previous records in India but was given ‘A’ certificate in Singapore for being too violent—filmmaker SS Rajmouli is working on cinematic adaptation of one of the two major Sanskrit war epics of ancient India, Mahabharata. The movie is being made at an astronomical budget of ₹1000 crore.

Many cover videos of the upcoming movie are already making rounds on the social media. The movie aims at retelling the epic from the perspective of Bheem, which is being played by Malayalam superstar Mohan Lal.

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Published: 16 Aug 2017, 4:22 PM