Contemporary Bollywood films focus on the stories of emerging Indian subordinates in the face of adversity or threats from outside: the success of the charismatic male Hindutva hero who fulfills his duty, saves the country and regains India’s lost pride.
This is not a new phenomenon. Bollywood’s formula for promoting nationalist rhetoric by glorifying past heroes or events can be traced back to the early years of Marathi theater.
In the nineteenth century, Marathi theater reminisced about historical events: from 1645 to 1818 it tells the stories of the great Maratha Empire that covered most of the Indian subcontinent.
In the British-ruled subcontinent, popular dramas raised the call of the “terrorist” political leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920). Swaraj, Or…