15 August. Indian Independence Day. I almost escaped writing about this special day that comes but once a year… but if you know me, you will know that there is no way today could go past without a blog dedication. I thought and thought… in fact, I completely wracked my brain as to what I could write about this special day which would catch the essence of how I feel. Then, as if by magic, it came to me. I’ve read in the past people giving a history of how India became India and I’ve also read various Bollywood-related articles that, in no uncertain terms, highlight how our film industry conveys patriotism through it’s dialogues, music and poignant scenes. I wanted to write something different and something those in my generation would not only understand but also identify with. So here goes my attempt at highlighting the things that, in recent times, have made me feel proud from deep inside my heart that I am an Indian.
The international success of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) was something that made me feel on top of the world. The fact that the movie wasn’t born in India but used the sub-continent as a backdrop as well as the inclusion of actors who created a fusion of talent from all over the globe were enough to make my heart beat with immense pride. I was happy that the movie portrayed the talents of actors within our very own Indian film industry and even happier that it got them and the rest of the cast the recognition it did. The icing on the cake came when not only did the movie receive numerous Oscar nominations that year but it went on to win so many of those awards even when pitted against big budget films and world-renowned talents. Although, the movie got a mixed reaction from my own friend circle, I don’t think even the ones who didn’t like the film too much can say that they didn’t feel a sense of pride about the Oscars!
Following the phenomenal success of the movie, the snazzy Mr Anil Kapoor then landed himself a role in the much-loved 24. Although I’ve never really been a fan of the show, I think this contributes heavily in the pride I feel too. Now, we firmly have an actor that has well and truly “gone to Hollywood”. Irrfan Khan will also be seen in the forthcoming Spiderman movie and it would be wrong to not give Mallika Sherawat’s Hollywood mark a mention. The actress is seeing her reach and fame grow by leaps and bounds with the kind of cinema she is being offered in the States. Sherawat recently attended the International Indian Film Awards in Toronto with the co-star of her forthcoming movie, Bryan White, in tow. All in all, Indians are getting to the mainstream and conquering the international stage with ease… whilst keeping with their roots at the same time. What better time could there be to show that one’s Eastern heritage is enough to get noticed when in the right place at the right time and with the right projects.
Another contributory factor which makes my “proud to be Indian” list is the stupendous mark that Karan Johar’s movie My Name is Khan (2010) made on the film world both nationally and internationally. The moment of true delight was increased at the thought and the image of both stars of the movie, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, opening the NASDAQ bell in New York. Doing so by invitation from NASDAQ themselves, the two became the very first within the Bollywood film fraternity to have the privilege to do something which is usually only done by the heads of major corporations. Although there is no doubting that their presence at such a prestigious location would have done wonders for their film, there is also no denying that this was a one-off and it was a moment to be proud of. It shows that the world (the Western world in particular) is taking “us” Indians seriously… and these kinds of acts and invites only go to cement this sentiment.
Earlier this year, the moment that made every Indian in the world open their hearts with pride was the Indian cricket team winning the world cup. This was a day I and probably everyone in my immediate reach will never forget. The images of the “Little Master”, Sachin Tendulkar, being carried around the pitch on the shoulders of his fellow team players was one which brought tears to my eyes. This was the essence of being Indian. This was the team’s “thank you” to Tendulkar, to whom they owed so much. I will never forget the look on captain MS Dhoni’s face behind his head-gear when the final ball went for four runs. The cheesy grin signified the relief that the final was over, it signified a this-is-how-it’s-done attitude and, most of all, it emphasised that this was the captain that not many had faith in but that he had just won the cup for each and every Indian standing on the planet. Unforgettable, unbelievable and truly heart-warming moments… and they are a huge part of the pride of being Indian.
The final mention in my post goes to an image which, as a British citizen, made me feel a little embarrassed but, as an Asian, made my eyes fill with tears of delight. I’m sure everyone reading is familiar with the images coming from London over the last few days with the riots up and down the country. The little flame of hope came, however, when I was reading tweets of a Sikh and a Muslim community in North and West London congregating to protect their local roads and their places of worship from the criminalities of people who were ready to cause havoc. I can’t even begin to explain how good it felt for such communities to come together and stand their ground, to stop thugs walking all over their home-town, including the buildings that were closest to their heart. It’s an image and a notion which, I feel, served the purpose of conveying that they are “not to be messed with” and that they are ready to fight fire with fire. Although I don’t condone violence in any way, it felt amazing to know of the goings-on and the existence of such a spirit given the circumstances.
These are just a few examples of the reasoning behind feeling so proud to be an Indian (or even an Asian) in this day and age. It doesn’t take much history, much knowledge of past events or even the need to physically be within the sub-continent to feel the way I do about my roots and the country my family and I originate from. I LOVE my India… and if anyone thinks otherwise, they can hopefully read the above and rest assured that I mean every word. Saare jahaan se achha Hindustan hamaara… Hum bulbule hai jisi, yeh gulsita hamaara…