During the 1940s and '50s many films depicted historical or princely India. These were big budget spectaculars with grand sets, magnificent costumes and memorable music. The stories were a combination of fact and myth. They provided visually stunning, escapist entertainment deflecting attention away from the hardships of war and the fight for independence.

Some films, particularly those set in the great Mughal past, such as Anarkali and Humayun, portrayed historical figures and created a nostalgic representation of imperial grandeur rather than depicting complex facts. These films reinforced nationalist aspirations. At a time of political conflict between Hindus and Muslims over the government of India, Muslim filmmakers were reluctant to explore contemporary political issues for fear of censorship and disguised them by setting them in the past. As a consequence, the Mughal period was represented as the golden age of racial and religious understanding.

These films inspired an emerging nation by creating an image of India based on the glory of its past. The advertisements captured the public imagination by reflecting that glory.