Top Patriotic (desh-bhakti) Bollywood Movies List: Upkar, Purab Aur Pacchim, Chak De! India, Border, Swadesh, Shaheed, Jhansi Ki Rani, Roti Kapada Aur Makaan

Among the plethora of patriotic cinema in so many decades of bollywood movies, here are the selected list of films that made statements on different issues connected with patriotism and desh-bhakti.


  1. Jhansi Ki Rani (1953)

This film was a biopic of the immortal Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, who took up cudgels against the British in the first-ever mutiny against them in 1857 and sacrificed her life.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Phir Subah Hogi (1958)

Though the film spoke against Nehruvian politics, it was the first to showcase the evils of free India. The presence of top star Raj Kapoor and some hit songs penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, like the satirical “Chin-O-Arab Hamara,” helped the film score high.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. Haqeeqat (1964)

In 1962, free India faced her first war (with China) and Chetan Anand made this momentous but fairly dark and realistic saga honoring our soldiers and martyrs. Despite a top cast and cult songs like “Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon,” the film did not become a b-o. bonanza but remains the best war film we have ever made.

Box-Office Status: Average

  1. Shaheed (1965)

Writer-actor Manoj Kumar ghost-directed this masterpiece on Bhagat Singh’s life. A sensitive saga with cult songs, it won the President’s Medal (as the National award was known then), and Bhagat Singh’s mother was moved, and she blessed the filmmaker-star.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Upkar (1967)

During the award ceremony for the above film, Shastri requested Manoj Kumar to make a film on his slogan “Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan,” as soldiers and farmers were the prime sons of the soil. Manoj completed the rough draft of the story in the 24-hour train journey back to Mumbai. Officially taking credit as the director, he made the songs (especially “Mere Desh Ki Dharti”) and himself as Bharat get cult status.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Farz (1967)

A cult James Bond-like espionage thriller, the film was Mumbai’s first tryst with the patriotic spy drama laced with populist entertaining aspects and the James Bond influence. The music and Jeetendra both became a rage, and the film inspired a series of such thrillers like “Ankhen” (the biggest hit of 1968), “Spy in Rome,” “Humsaya, “Shatranj,” “Yakeen” and “Keemat.”

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Purab Aur Pacchim (1971)

This is the first film to highlight the difference in the cultures of the East and West — to our advantage of course, but with the rider that Western norms are alright for them.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974)

This time, Manoj Kumar looked at the basic necessities of our countrymen — food, clothes and shelter — and wove a compelling social drama around it, highlighting corruption, unemployment and many social ills. For good measure, the musical blockbuster that led the 1974 box-office also set the multi-star trend.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Prahaar (1991)

The fiery actor made a debut as writer-director to boldly spotlight the country’s internal enemy — the evil, anti-social and subversive entities that hold back the nation from reaching great heights. The raw, realistic treatment made the offbeat film make just a small profit despite its virtues.

Box-Office Status: Average

  1. Border (1997)

Dutta made a remarkable film that was a first — it was a dramatized version of the real Longewala battle in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Huge in its mounting and scale, it became the biggest hit of 1997.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. Sarfarosh (1999)

The film went a step beyond “Prahaar” and spoke of how the nexus of rotten elements within India and enemies across the border weakened and endangered us. A hard-hitting film, the movie began Aamir Khan’s journey towards excellence in outré commercial cinema.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. Veer Savarkar (2001)

This was the first publicly funded film in India and the tireless and long dream of giant Marathi singer-composer Sudhir Phadke. The biopic on the visionary leader who was suppressed by Congress politics was a lethal mix of Savarkar’s real-life, authentically documented action and his incisive ideology that spoke of a nation above religion, caste or personal beliefs. The film proved to be a hit in Maharashtra, the only state in which it was released.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. Gadar – Ek Prem Katha (2001)

The comic book-like jingoistic thriller worked, because it also had an authentic look at Partition, a serious survey of the Indo-Pak relationship and did not trivialize the theme or truth. Honest and as searing as it was endearing and entertaining, the mega-hit remains the most-watched film of the decade 2000-2009.

Box-Office Status: All Time Mega-Hit

  1. Lagaan (2001)

If “Gadar” got the numbers, and “Lagaan” (which released the same day) got the hosannas. Aamir Khan played a humble villager who takes on British pride and beats them in a cricket match in the 19th century to prevent them from implementing a killing tax on the villagers. This was period-patriotic fiction.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. 16 December (2002)

As intelligence became high-tech, the movie highlighted the devoted squad of men and women that protected Indian citizens with the help of technology. But the dangers too multiplied, as a manic Pakistani mastermind wished to take revenge on India for the December 16, 1971 humiliating defeat.

Box-Office Status: Hit

  1. Lakshya (2004)

Though a flop and a snail-paced drama, the film had one super-vital message that needed to be unconditionally lauded: it motivated Indian youth to think of a career in the Armed Forces. The message was lost as the dreary narration undid the big-cast film.

Box-Office Status: Flop

  1. Swades (2004)

Though the film flopped, it had a vital message for highly-qualified Indians abroad to heed the call of their motherland and give it priority over money and success overseas. The poor script made the movie bite the box-office dust even as it garnered critical accolades for its message.

Box-Office Status: Flop

  1. Chak De! India (2007)

This is the film that through its traumatized protagonist, a disgraced Muslim hockey coach, showed where India’s true stumbling-block lay — that we think of the province and everything else first but as Indians last. And the coach finds his own redemption and vindicates his honor by correcting his team’s mindset.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. A Wednesday! (2008)

The common man is the most troubled by terrorism today, and this stunning drama showed how he could himself take some action against his nation’s enemies rather than only relying on the law and the soldiers to help him or prevent danger.

Box-Office Status: Super-Hit

  1. D-Day (2013)

A misguided high budget and poor timing of release prevented success for this lovely saga of patriotic agents reaching Pakistan to weed out enemies and finish them off. In times when terrorism is rampant, this was fantasy at its zenith. A similar effort is now seen in the forthcoming “Phantom.”

Box-Office Status: Flop

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