I know it is very corny and Ive never been a big fan of using a definition in my writings but I believe it is useful in this situation. Merriam-Websters definition for nationalism is as stated “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries”. After reading this definition i thought of the film “Lagaan” for a couple reasons. In the film one can see that the British portray this sense of being better than the Indian villagers that they oversee. The British use this corrupt power that they have over the villagers and they do whatever they want when they want knowing that the villagers have to do what they say. At the same time the villagers have a strong sense of pride and know that what the British are doing to them is wrong. So much so that they are willing to fight to get what they deserve. They are tired of being pushed of by the British and have had enough. The two words that stuck out to me in the definition was loyal and proud. During the cricket game you can see the players and all the fans watching have this strong sense of loyalty and pride and they are fighting tooth and nail to provide a better life for the village.
In Lagaan, all of the people in Bhuvan’s village do not necessarily get along. When the British want to impose a much higher tax on Bhuvan’s village, he comes up with a plan to play a cricket game versus the British. Though the people of the village aren’t friendly with each other before the game came along, their sense of nationality comes to the forefront so that they can work to defeat the British. Nationalism is basically a sense of pride in the place you live. People can have a sense of nationalism for the same place without living the same life as those around them.
There are people of different ages, from different classes, and different religions all come together to support a common cause. They probably would not be able to get along in any other setting except for this one. Their sense of nation and nationality comes out when there is a promise of no tax if they win the cricket game. No taxes would not only benefit each person individually, but the whole entire village as a whole.
Nationalism seems to provide a sense a unity within the people of a community, even if there are more common interests shared with foreigners. I saw this portrayed in the film, Lagaan, when Gauri, a local village woman, feels territorial over the main character, Bhuvan. Majority of her time is spent trying to find a husband, and when the fortune teller sees her future with Bhuvan she sets her sights on him. With not too much in common, besides residency and nationality, she fully believes they are soul mates. When an English woman, Elizabeth, goes out of her way to teach the village how to play cricket so they won’t have to pay the English empire triple tax, and starts sharing a connection with Bhuvan this troubles Gauri. Elizabeth is crossing an “imagined boundary” by falling in love with not only a man outside her community, but by stealing his attentions away from someone within his community.
“Imagined boundaries” are mentioned by Benedict Anderson in “Imagined Communities.” Boundaries are set so communities can be distinguished from others in which the style each imagines themselves. Gauri sees Elizabeth as an encroacher over this boundary line, and the film makes the audience see the same with scene set-up. The camera closes in on Gauri’s face while Elizabeth and Bhuvan talk, her eyes dart quickly between the two and she begins to frown. The camera slowly goes over every detail of Elizabeth’s extravagancy, as if we are seeing her through an imaginary love-induced trance from Bhuvan’s eyes created by Gauri’s jealous mind. Gauri at one part in the film even refers to Elizabeth as the, “white witch.” Perhaps, Bhuvan and Elizabeth could have shared similar interests or an everlasting love if given the chance , but because this would be unsupportive of a nationalist style the film wouldn’t allow it. Bhuvan predictably ends up with Gauri.