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'Rang De Basanti', Dhanush Starrer 'Raanjhanaa' & Other Films That Show Student Activism

Movies like 'Raanjhanaa', Kay Kay Menon's 'Gulaal' and more which showed student activism at its finest and worst. Check out the picks below.


Whether it is drama, comedy or romance, films have always conveyed and kindled powerful emotions within people. The passionate reactions of people when they watch an emotional movie, naturally, led to movies becoming a medium to discuss social issues. Films in India have always strived to have themes relating to social issues. 

Student activism has been the central theme for many movies over the years, especially in the last few decades. Movies like Aarakshan, Gulaal, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi have all shown the impact of student activism and why it is important. Many actors have taken on roles in amazing movies like these. Here is a list of some of the best movies about students taking an active role outside the world of academia, check it out: 

Also read: DYK Dhanush Acted For The Very First Time At Age 16 In A Movie Directed By His Father?

List of movies that highlighted student activism


Aarakshan stars actors Amitabh Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan in lead roles playing a principal and a student turned teacher respectively. The name of the movie which means 'reservation', talks about the issue in more detail. Centred on one of the most controversial issues of recent years, the story suddenly becomes a rollercoaster ride of high drama, conflict, and rebellion. Showing the issue of reservation as neither right nor wrong but more grey, it shows an amalgamation of problems caused by people who oppose and support it. The movie also stars Deepika Padukone, Prateik Babbar and Manoj Bajpayee. Although Aarakshan got mixed reviews from critics, it did fairly well at the box office. Check a scene from the movie below.

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Gulaal stars Raj Singh Chaudhary and Kay Kay Menon in lead roles; where Raj plays a law student who is a Rajput and Menon plays a local leaderwho is gathering support for the Rajputana separatist movement. The movie is a compendium of caste politics and grand schemes until the very end. It portrays just how much student politics can affect and bring changes in the world around, also highlighting the problems in governance and unequal disposition of democratic rights in the country. The film received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. Watch the trailer below. 


Ranjhanaa stars actors Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles with Dhanush playing a Tamil Hindu boy named Kundan and Kapoor playing a girl from a Muslim orthodox family named Zoya. The movie revolves around the complicated relationship between the two characters with Kundan having one-sided affections for Zoya. While the latter initially reciprocates these feelings, she is sent away by her family only to fall in love with someone else, leaving Kundan angry and jealous. The movie also stars Abhay Deol and Swara Bhasker in supporting roles and, did generally well at the box office as well as being critically acclaimed. 

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Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti is a critically acclaimed movie which features an ensemble cast of Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni, Kunal Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan, Siddharth & Alice Patten. The movie revolves around a documentary which Patten's character Sue is trying to create after being inspired by the stories of the freedom fighters during the Indian freedom struggle. It starts with the main characters who at first don't show much interest in expressing patriotism for the country but, as they go further along with the making of the documentary, they begin to the understand its importance. The movie also shows blatant misconduct and corruption in the government and how it affects the lives of the main characters and the general public.

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi stars Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh and Shiney Ahuja in lead roles. The film revolves around the three characters who are all students from different backgrounds backed by different ideologies as they try to make their way into the world. It also shows the problems with the public delivery system being woefully insufficient even though a vast majority of people depend on it for an opportunity at a dignified life. The film also shows the Naxal revolutions along with blatant misconduct in the police force including cover-ups and police brutality. The movie was critically acclaimed but didn't make much of a box office impact.

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Image Source: Stills from Rang De Basanti & Raanjhanaa

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