What’s common between a famous Bollywood actor and a panda?
Both refuse to leave their comfort zone.
Whether it be Shahrukh Khan with his romantic scenes, Ranbir Kapoor with his ‘I need to have a walking out of a wedding scene in order to have a successful film’ ideology, or John Abraham refusing to do anything except fighting roles, the recent development in the industry, however, has been quite fascinating. The exploitation of patriotism to bag FilmFare awards, national awards, and high box office numbers has become quite a trend recently. And while we all enjoyed the role of Sidharth Malhotra as Abhimanyu Singh in Student of the Year, unfortunately, we’ve lost him to the patriotic film fever as well.
With Shershaah, Mission Majnu, and Aiyaary already under his belt, it can be seen how comfortable Malhotra has become with playing a patriotic role. And to think that he has had no difficulty in capitalizing on the fervor surrounding patriotism in India. This choice can be seen as a calculated move to gain popularity and secure a dedicated fanbase, rather than a genuine commitment to meaningful storytelling. Now with “Indian Police Force” and “Yodha” planning on joining his list of military movies, it can be clearly seen that Malhotra is not giving up on these roles any time soon.
While patriotism is an important aspect of any society, the problem lies in the superficial representation of this sentiment that is portrayed through Malhotra’s films. These movies often rely on clichéd and jingoistic narratives, with little focus on nuanced storytelling or critical analysis of the subject matter. By perpetuating stereotypes and shallow portrayals in the name of ‘patriotism’, these roles ultimately reinforce existing biases and fail to contribute to a meaningful dialogue on the complex issues that actually tend to surround nationalism.
Moreover, the consistent reliance on these roles by Malhotra also hinders the potential for social commentary in his films. By sticking to a tried-and-tested formula, he misses opportunities to explore and shed light on the pressing issues that are in fact, faced by society. Rather than using his platform to address important topics like social inequality, religious intolerance, or political corruption, Malhotra often resorts to generic narratives that lack depth and substance.
In addition, the repeated portrayal of an army or a police officer by Malhotra contributes to the perpetuation of nationalistic jingoism in Indian cinema. This type of cinema tends to glorify an unquestioning love for the nation without engaging in critical introspection or addressing the complexities of patriotism. It fosters a binary and exclusionary understanding of national identity, disregarding the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of individuals.
While Sidharth Malhotra’s fame and success in the Indian film industry cannot be denied, it is important to critically analyze the content and impact of his choice of roles. By continuously taking up patriotic roles, considering it as a safety net, which one knows will help profit in one way or another, unfortunately, also helps perpetuate superficial representations, misses opportunities for social commentary, and contributes to the propagation of nationalistic jingoism. As audiences, we should also be demanding more meaningful and thought-provoking narratives that go beyond tokenistic patriotism, allowing for a deeper exploration of the issues that affect our society. Eventually, the audience capacity to watch another Vikram Batra and Dimple love story, will run out. What then, Sid?