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When Hindi films fought for freedom

Last updated on: December 1, 2010 10:55 IST

Image: A scene from Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

After the debacle of his last film What's Your Rashee, Ashutosh Gowariker is back with what he does best and brings us a movie based in the pre-independence era.

His new film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se is based on Manini Chatterjee's book 'Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34'. A period thriller the film has Abhishek Bachchan and Deppika Padukone in the lead.

As the film prepares to hit theatres this Friday, here's a look at ten truly memorable Hindi films about freedom fighters:

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Image: A scene from Junoon

Shyam Benegal's masterpiece was set around the revolt of 1857 where soldiers of India fought to win back their land from the British. It featured a multitude of fascinating characters dealing with the revolution in their own way.

Perhaps most captivating of all was Naseeruddin Shah's fanatical freedom fighter, Sarfaraz.


Image: A scene from Sardar

Ketan Mehta made one of the finest modern biopics as he dramatised the story of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in this 1993 historical.

The film was a powerful one, centering around leading man Paresh Rawal delivering a mammoth performance, arguably the best of his career.

Making Of The Mahatma

Image: A scene from Making Of The Mahatma

This Shyam Benegal meditation is just one of many films made about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi not least of which is the British film made by Sir Richard Attenborough, Gandhi but it remains special because it tells the story of his early years in South Africa. 

Bose: The Forgotten Hero

Image: A poster of Bose: The Forgotten Hero

Clearly the one Hindi filmmaker most inspired by the freedom struggle. Benegal in this movie tried to portray the last five years of Subhash Chandra Bose's life.

He didn't get as much critical applause for this film of Subhash Chandra Bose, but he deserves applause for telling what is an often-neglected tale. 

The Legend Of Bhagat Singh

Image: A scene from The Legend Of Bhagat Singh

A slew of Bhagat Singh bipics hit the screen at the same time, but this Raj Kumar Santoshi version stood out head and shoulders above the competition.

Starring Ajay Devgn in the title role with Sushant Singh as Sukhdev and D Santosh as Rajguru this stirring film packed quite the punch.


Image: A poster of Kranti

Set between 1825 and 1875, this sprawling multistarrer epic is one of Manoj Kumar's most unforgettable films.

Featuring Kumar himself alongside Dilip Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha, Kranti is the tale of two Indian soldiers, a drama that never lets go of its blockbuster roots.


Image: A scene from Shaheed

This 1965 classic is yet another take on the Bhagat Singh story, and widely considered among the finest of Indian biopics.

Starring Manoj Kumar in the lead role, the S Ram Sharma film delves on Bhagat Singh's early life and decisions, thus giving his story context.

Hey Ram

Image: A scene from Hey Ram

Kamal Haasan's mostly underrated controversial film featured a protagonist (played by Haasan himself, naturally) ideologically convinced that he must kill Mahatma Gandhi.

A thought-provoking film, even if let down by its need to shock.


Image: A scene from Samadhi

The best film made about Subhash Bose's Indian National Army, Ramesh Saigal's 1950 film featured Ashok Kumar as a young INA recruit eventually pitted against his own brother (played by Shyam) who is part of a British spy ring.


Image: A poster of Shaheed

Ramesh Saigal's 1948 film, made barely a year after India won its independence, is one of the earliest films on the subject.

The film is a rousing one and the cast with Dilip Kumar alongside the fiery Chander Mohan, in one of his final role makes it very laudable indeed.