The box office success of the film ‘Gadar 2’ has been hailed by Amit Malviya, the chief of the BJP IT cell, as an indicator of the country’s mood. However, this stance was challenged by Trinamool leader Saken Gokhale, who claimed that the BJP was too unsettled to accurately gauge the nation’s sentiment. Gokhale suggested waiting for the box office records of Shah Rukh Khan’s film ‘Jawan’, which released on September 7, to accurately reflect the mood of the nation.
This exchange occurs against a backdrop of ongoing conflict between the BJP and the opposition over two contentious issues: Sanatan Dharma and the India versus Bharat name debate. ‘Gadar 2’, a sequel to the 2001 film ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’, is based on the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The film was released on August 11, just prior to Independence Day, and has since joined the ₹500 crore club.
Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Jawan’, which released on September 7, took in ₹75 crore nett on the first day at the domestic box office. Both films are being hailed as blockbusters, with ‘Jawan’ offering a unique perspective on patriotism by asking critical questions of the authorities. The mood of the nation, as per the opposition parties, is encapsulated in ‘Jawan’. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), for instance, stated that Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal has been echoing the sentiments expressed by Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Jawan’. Khan’s two-minute monologue in the film, which emphasises the importance of asking the right questions before voting, is seen as a significant political commentary.
Public interpretation of the trailer for ‘Jawan’ suggested that Khan’s dialogue – “Bete ko haath lagane se pehle baap se baat kar (Talk to the dad before going after his son)” – was a veiled reference to IRS officer Sameer Wankhede. Wankhede had arrested Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, at a cruise party in 2021 on drug possession allegations. However, no drugs were found on Aryan Khan, leading to claims that Wankhede was targeting Shah Rukh Khan’s son for a bribe. These events and their representation in popular cinema highlight the ongoing political and social tensions within the nation.