Bollywood has always loved melodrama—and the war film is the perfect vehicle for it. It offers up an easily identifiable enemy, black and white clarity between good and evil, opportunity for sentimental outpouring, and much else for a chance at box-office success. Over the past few years—both during and after the drought in theatrical releases due to the pandemic—we have seen a surge in films based on the battlefield. Some are retellings of true stories, others fiction inspired by real events, but whether they are set in Kashmir or in the distant past, the war film has got an enthusiastic following.
Apart from the odd film that looks at life beyond the battlefield, Hindi cinema tends to glorify going to war and defending the country, probably also an effect of a culture of film-making that admires machismo. The war film is also a platform to promote patriotism and the values we must cultivate, rather than a reflection on the devastation of war and the impact of long-running conflicts. We avoid facing the psychological impact of war on soldiers and civilians.
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Our cover story takes a look at why Bollywood enjoys going to war. It also seems like an appropriate time to examine the idea of glorifying war on film—on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and a few weeks after the US involvement in Afghanistan officially came to an end.
When it comes to struggles that are closer to home, the hospitality industry has been facing its share of troubles, having to shift constantly to keep up with the realities and vagaries of the pandemic. We go behind the scenes of Mumbai’s beloved Bombay Canteen and O Pedro restaurants, which, like many others, lost staff to covid-19. Founders Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage discuss keeping up with the many changes of the past year, including the loss of their mentor and head chef, Floyd Cardoz, learning to move on, and the imminent launch of their “digital mithai shop” around Diwali.
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