Political Creativity : Here & There


This article has been submitted by Pushkar Singh for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

I was recently watching the trailer of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai, which is based on Vassilis Vassilikos’ novel “Z”. The upcoming film is based on the issue of conflicts over re-development. For those who don’t know, this is an important issue for a resident of Mumbai, and some other areas as well where illegal structures and houses have been built illegally on government lands.

I fervently hope that Mr. Banerjee shows the both sides of the coin, and makes an interesting film, which brought me to this issue of the kind of politics-based drama films we make here in Bollywood and made in Hollywood.

Hollywood has managed to churn out amazing politics-based classics over the years, be it bio-pics, fiction or adaptations of real life incidents and books. This is possibly because creativity does not have any boundaries there. Beginning from “The Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith, politics-based films have heralded new imaginations. There have been many many great politics-based films in Hollywood and different international film industries. French director Costa Gavras’ “Z” (based on the same book Z of Mr. Vassilikos) is considered as one of the gems of politics-based cinema. Many films, based on many historical incidents, such as the Holocaust, the World War II, the Nazi rule, Vietnam war etc have given the writers abroad ideas on which beautiful stories have come out such as Poverty in Boniage, Salt of the Earth, The Battle of Algiers, The Manchurian Candidate etc. Even the famous film “Gandhi”, made by Richard Attenborough, is considered a masterpiece biopic on Mahatma Gandhi-ji. The quality of such films has fallen to some extent with films like J. Edgar and The Iron Lady (I’d say both were “boring” till the end, but some of the performances saved them). But at the same time, films like Milk, The Ides of March, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana and Frost/Nixon continue to enthrall the audiences and critics, both alike.

However, at the flip side of Bollywood, things have not been so bright. Except possibly “Raajneeti”, which was also not a ‘masterpiece’ as such, and “Gulaal”, it has been a disappointing picture. Also, Prakash Jha managed to shock us with a ham of a film in “Aarakshan”. Seriously, politics has not been a cup of tea for our film makers.

I think this is possibly because of two reasons. One, India has suffered a large number of social problems, and film makers here love to exploit this genre more than politics. Second, is the creative boundary which I mentioned earlier. Sonia Gandhi raised objections to Rajneeti, just because rumours suggested that Katrina Kaif’s role was close to her life. P.L. Punia, a leader from Congress’ raised objections even before watching “Aarakshan” and questioned the great Censor Board (at least watch it man).

In short, the freedom does not exist to create masterpieces. And when the freedom does not exist, it’s time to push the barriers and raid the emperor.


  1. @ Kuhu : Rajneeti was a good movie but not a masterpiece, because it traded the same well beaten commercial path. On the other hand, Gulaal dealt with university politics, an issue very important in the country, but not well dealt by media and films. So, that’s a masterpiece. 

  2. i sorry but this country does not need freedom to create movies….(if it didn’t then their wouldn’t be item songs in every excuse of a movie fancied by drunken hound dogs)., it needs smart actors( not beefed up jerk offs or double D’s beauty queens), veteran script writers and avant-grade directors. and if i understand your undertaking, which i do, you are trying to mix cinema with politics. its not like that……and stop throwing random names of politico movies……movies become master pieces because all the elements of a picture comes together…..script, acting, drama, production, direction, class and a smart group of critics that decide the fate of the movie to the masses. india needs different things to create masterpieces, it needs the huge audience that exist around the world which pulls the demand for masterpieces. what this stupid country has is a demand for is stupid, over the top musical pieces in movies. 

  3. I tend to agree and disagree with you. Freedom has been a blurred line in Bollywood, and it has not been well differentiated. Item songs may not look offending to our censors, but definitely mentioning politicos, even for inspiration does. Ultimately, no one likes being shamed, especially our leaders. Time they grew up. I do get your point that all the things matter in making a masterpiece, but what I wanted to put forward is why we cannot have films set with political bases, which if aptly done, can be masterpieces. We need to look in the genre, with quality. And yes, our audience needs to come of age, and stop loving heroes beating up the baddies, and the item numbers, and many many other aspects. And we need a uniform awards, which is quite prestigious like Oscars, to encourage better quality of films. 

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