As Faridabad unfurls world’s largest Indian flag, here is why TBI Reader Nalin Rai thinks national symbols like this are a crucial part of Indian society and cinema.
What was a matter of pride for Delhi, or rather Connaught Place in Delhi, was to have the largest national flag greet one against the magnificent façade of the arches of Connaught Place.
It brings goose bumps whenever one crosses it and for sure reignites the nationalistic feeling with a new vigor. It seems therefore that seeking inspiration from it, the neighboring town of Faridabad has taken over Delhi and unfurled the world’s largest national flag.
It measures 96 feet by 64 feet and weighs 48 kilograms. The flag has been hoisted at a height of 250 feet (75 meters), thus making it the largest and highest hoisted Indian flag in the world.
As compared to the flag at Faridabad which has been recently hoisted, the flag at Connaught Place is 60 feet in width and 90 feet in length and is hoisted at the top of a 207 feet high mast. After the installation of this flag at Connaught Place, the footfalls there had increased phenomenally as every citizen wanted to have his or her picture taken with a symbol of national pride.
Critics may scoff at such public display of nationalism, and question it from the context of the costs involved in setting up such visible symbols, forgetting the fact that such symbols carve their place in the itinerary of a city as not-to-be-missed destinations. Scores of events have been organized around the national flag at Connaught Place that catch the spirit of the moment and give citizens a place with some relevance to congregate.
Setting up such symbols of street furniture in public space adds brand equity to the physical space and also creates spots where people come to spend their leisure time and reflect or bask in the national glory. They also become important hubs of tourist attraction.
In the process of nation-building too, such installations play a big role. There are critics out there who question the logic of spending such large amounts of money and push forward the argument that such expenditure can be utilized in a much better manner in feeding the poor or improving the infrastructure. While there is merit in that argument, critics however forget the fact that such street symbols have the ability in themselves to become points of revenue generation, points of employment generation and public spaces where citizens can interact with one another.
Here are five such vital landscapes from a plethora of such facades spread all over the countryside that always instill a sense of pride in me whenever I cross them.
It also goes without saying that time and again these landscapes have been interpreted cinematically as well and it reinforces the importance of such symbols as catalysts in infusing a sense of pride in the citizens of the country.
1. India Gate, New Delhi
India Gate as a symbol of pride shot into prominence after it emerged as a symbol of protest in Rang De Basanti, and since then it has been shot in evocative ways by several filmmakers, underlining its importance in our national history.
2. Gateway of India, Mumbai
This iconic building rose in the imagination of the nation with eminence after it was used as an evocative backdrop in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay and it continues to mesmerize and entice scores of visitors every day.
3. Qutub Minar and its surroundings, Delhi
From the time Dev Anand shot one of the songs from the film Tere Ghar Ke Saamne to Fanaa and Cheeni Kum, this vital edifice of our history has become a major fixation of any tourist itinerary of inbound, outbound or even local’s weekend schedule. After all, where else can one have an amalgamation of Ancient and Medieval History in one complex as it happens in the Qutub Minar complex, comprising of the Iron Pillar of Chandragupta Vikramaditya and the Qutub complex?
4. Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Another iconic landmark which rose into eminence owing to its portrayal through the cinematic lens and is a major source of tourist attraction in Kolkata.
5. Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru
This must-visit spot down south in Bangalore, included in the itinerary of any tourist, is the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka. Built under the able leadership of K. Hanumanthaiah, the imposing edifice was inaugurated in 1951 and has served as a definitive symbol for Bengaluru and Karnataka ever since.
Some of these buildings have existed for centuries and have grown in importance over time. But it is interesting to note how their stature rose in quadratic proportions when they were built into a cinematic narrative, underlining the fact that cinema and landscapes feed on each other and facilitate in the enhancement of the stature of both.
For instance, the placing of the national flag in the public domain for the common citizens would perhaps not have become possible had AR Rehman, along with Bharat Bala, not created those amazing moments associated with national flags from around the countryside – from the snow-clad peaks to the barren deserts, in the toothless smile of a child or the toothless grin of a weathered face. Rehman deserves applause for his efforts in making citizens proud about the tricolour and I hope to see many more such symbols of national pride and national identity coming up in my country.