6 Bollywood Movies That Showed The Essence And Importance Of Student Activism

Student Activism has been an effective representation for the development of critical political thought and ideologies. But, though students are often excluded from influencing political decisions since very often student activists are regarded as troublemakers manipulated  by political parties. But , there is no denying that the fire burning in the heart of the youth can set public opinion ablaze and make an impact on the socio-political fabric of the country; whether it was the uprising at the Tienanmen Square in China or the recent upheaval at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the examples are there for all to see.

Reel often imitates real and vice versa, here are the five Hindi film’s based on student politics and activism which struck a chord.

1. Rang De Basanti

A group of four students, soon after losing their best friend in a MIG 21 crash, are politically awakened and question the corruption rampant in the government and uncover a scandal involving the Ministry of Defence. As Aamir Khan’s character says, “no great feat can be achieved without getting your hands dirty”, the modern youth take inspiration from the revolutionaries of the 19th century Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Chadrashekar Azad; youth that defied the British and took law into their own hands. As the film moves between parallel narratives of India’s Pre-Independence movement and the current scenario as the youngsters helplessly protest the harsh reality of state sponsored violence and hypocritical politicians make them embark on a path which in their eyes is justified but questionable in the eyes law. Rang De Basanti unleashed a wave of neo-patriotism and showcased the youth in a new perspective.

2. Gulaal

Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal, set in modern day Rajasthan, explored the dark side of student and secessionist politics in the state. The hedonistic combination of power and royalty. Social hypocrisy and student activism all comes together in the narrative of a fictitious secessionist movement to create a separate Rajputana. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap known to speak his mind showcases his own anger and frustrations with the system through this heady narrative of power and politics.

3. Aarakshan

Caste based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions is challenged in this socio-political drama. Prakash Jha’s narrative starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone highlights the volatile debate between two sections of students the so called upper caste and the backward caste who challenge the concept of reservations and it’s impact on both sections.

4. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

Directed by Sudhir Mishra, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi set against the backdrop of the  Indian Emergency, is narrated through the eye of three students played by Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja and Chitrangada Singh and its impact on their lives in college and later. Whilst one aspires to bring revolution in his state and end caste based discrimination, his Naxal rhetoric- though attractive- seems wouldn’t take him far, whilst the other a middle class youth who wants to make it big any cost, as the two men embark on their set of ideals, the woman’s life is entwined with both.

5. Hu Tu Tu

Gulzar’s take on modern Indian politics, Hu Tu Tu starring Tabu , Sunil Shetty and Nana Patekar  showed the angst of the youth and their frustration with the corruption , a generation which questioned but never receives any answers. a tug of war between idealism and principles which are  skewed with power.

6. Goonj

A little known film made way back in the 80’s this Kumar Gaurav and Juhi Chawla starrer, set in Goa, was the story of how a group of students involuntarily get involved in state politics. As one of the comes across a MLA’s nefarious activities little does he realise taking on a politicians and those in power could cost him dearly. But as they say no guts no glory, a revolution begins with the power of one


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