India votes and waits in suspense in the middle of a gripping general election. Once you’ve cast your ballot there’s not much to do till the results are announced. Instead of wondering whether your favourite candidate will win, how about distracting yourself with our politics-themed Bollywood picks?
1) Main Azaad Hoon (1989)
A homeless man with a certain kind of innocent charm catches the eye of a journalist looking for her next big news sensation. The journalist offers the homeless man a good amount of money to pose as a man called ‘Azaad’ – a crusader of social justice vowing to fight for the issues of the common man and call the government and society out on the corruption within. But soon things get out of hand: Azaad becomes too involved in his role. As he rallies the masses against the politicians in power, he starts to become a genuine threat. Meanwhile, our journalist also finds herself stuck in a difficult place wondering whether to end the act or keep riding the wave of the drama that is being generated. Things take a truly serious turn when, in the theatre of journalism versus politics, it seems as if Azaad might end up losing his life.
This is not your usual Hindi ‘masala’ movie; it wasn’t even a hit when it came out. There is no romance or action, but plenty of memorable music and dialogues. Main Azaad Hoon is a dark sort of film but it will inspire you to exercise your rights and go vote! Watch it for Amitabh Bachchan as Azaad in one of his finest roles ever.
2) Satta (2003)
Another film about an innocent bystander getting unwittingly sucked into the world of politics. This time it is politician-hating, career-oriented, party girl, Anuradha Sehgal, who finds herself married into a political family and standing for elections instead of her young politician husband who gets arrested for a murder. Her journey from there is not easy. She enters a battlefield of intrigue, manipulation, and power struggles that pose a threat to her very life. Like most Madhur Bhandarkar movies this one too is harshly real in its plot and performances. Raveena Tandon’s measured delivery brings to life the coming-of-age role of an empowered woman. In its finest moment Satta points a finger at its audience and raises the question that perhaps the reason why politics is dirty is because the good and educated people of India choose to remain uninvolved.
Watch this movie for what many consider Raveena’s most powerful work.
3) Dirty Politics (2015)
Sometimes politics can be such dirty business that well-made movies just don’t do justice to it. Dirty Politics has an Adult rating, a plot involving a steamy scandal, and an overall feel of a B-grade movie. It also has Mallika Sherawat doing the feisty sort of things she does best, but with an added layer of attempted seriousness with a well-rehearsed accent and a true-to-life look. Just like a career in politics, this movie is not for weak stomachs either. The ‘love’ scenes between Om Puri and Mallika would make an excellent ad for family planning. Why watch this film? Because like politics, life isn’t always fair and it’s fun to watch an otherwise stellar cast with talents such as Anupam Kher, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah and of course Om Puri working hard to make the best of a bad situation (i.e. the film).
4) Kissa Kursi Ka (1977)
While Main Azaad Hoon is deep, and Dirty Politics was controversial, Kissa Kursi Ka was both, and also super entertaining! It was banned by the Indian Government when it first came out which is a testimony to the power of the satire this movie made of politics in our country. Interestingly, it was directed by Amrit Nahata, a former Member of Parliament. But what make this movie worth watching are its fantastic elements such as the talking chair, and humour that hits you unexpectedly like this speech of one politician: “Main chahta hoon ki iss desh ke ghar ghar mein anaath-alya ho, ghar ghar mein vidhwa aashram ho.”
5) Youngistaan (2014)
Like any contest India’s elections too have both winners and losers, then why shouldn’t a list of politics-themed movies not include some failures as well? Youngistaan is a super flop film. Most critics struggled with their conscience to give it a one-star rating since zero stars is not an option. Just like the career of an uninspiring politician, this movie has lame dialogues, contrived drama, and a forgettable story. It’s about the son of an assassinated Prime Minister being pulled out of his normal life to fill the political vacuum in the country and take the reins of leadership. The plotline is more predictable than an accountant’s biography. Watch this movie because it is neeche se first in every way. And if you’re feeling down and out about your own life for any reason, just imagine how Farooq Sheikh must have felt bringing his immense talent to this student project type movie.