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History History Revisited: Filmmakers Look To Punjab For Inspiration


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
History revisited: Filmmakers look to Punjab for inspiration

Jaskiran Kapoor
Posted: Sat Oct 23 2010, 03:59 hrs Chandigarh:

Whether it is films or television series, the region and its people have been more than inspiring for directors and creative personalities

Whether it is the land that is under attack or it is the passage to the country or an enviable seat of power and politics, it becomes a treasure trove of love and betrayal, war and valour, kings and warriors, heroes and conquests, ancient texts and folklore. Such is the history of Punjab. A region which serves as a reservoir of stories rich with characters and inspirations. A state that has been the source of masterpieces and legends is now once again finding its way into the writer’s mindscape, starting with filmmaker and writer Rohit Jugraj who is making Ikees.

“It’s based on the Battle of Saragarhi which has been listed as one of the top eight battles of bravery by UNESCO. Circa 1897, September 12; 21 brave Sikh soldiers valiantly fought 10,000 Afghans. It’s the story of 36 Sikh regiment and the boys, all in their 20s who fought this war,” said Jugraj. He has been in and out of Chandigarh researching about the battle that his great grandfather, Sepoy Sant Singh who was stationed at Waziristan at that time, told him.

Maverick writer-director Anurag Kashyap has announced his film on the revolutionary poet, Pash. “Avtar Singh Sandhu aka Pash was a heartbroken, melancholic poet. He was a revolutionary writer who raised issues relevant to Punjab,” says filmmaker Vibhu Puri whose film Chauras Chand was based on the legendary poet.

While Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra is making Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a biopic on Flying Sikh Milkha Singh, writer-director Harjinder Singh Ricky’s SGPC produced film will celebrate the life and exploits of the Sikh general Baba Banda Bahadur Singh.

Raj Babbar’s Maharaja Ranjit Singh, “is a televised magnum opus of global standards based on the life of the legendary king.” Rajkumar Gupta’s next film is Vidya Balan starrer No One Killed Jessica based on Jessica Lal murder case.

Filmmaker Amarjit Singh is already onto his next project. “It’s a television series on Punjab’s unsung heroes, freedom fighters we read as mere references in history books,” Singh says, adding that everyone knows about Bhagat Singh, but very little of Rajguru and Sukhdev. “Similarly, the first voices in the freedom movement, like Kartar Singh Jhabbar who took the keys of Sri Nankana Sahib from the British, Madan Lal Dhingra, Baba Kharak Singh and the famous the Gaddari movement,” he said.

Singh visited the Gaddari Babas office in San Francisco, US. “The first newspaper of Independence outside India titled Gaddar was published from this place. Shaheed Udham Singh, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, Madan Lal Dhingra and several freedom fighters used to stay in this house, which is now a memorial of Gaddari Babas,” he added.

Virdi is mulling the idea of making a feature film on the sepoys from Punjab in the freedom movement from 1842-57. “It will be fictitious, but will have its roots in the period post Maharaja Ranjit Singh and events that lead to first mutiny,” he said. Virdi is also eyeing Punjab’s Olympians and Hockey legend Dhyanchand and the Punjabi Suba Movement of 1960, the political agitation which demanded the creation of a Punjabi speaking state.

Filmmaker and writer Daljit Ami would like to go for the Punjab that gave the country thinkers, philosophers and visionaries. “Like Muslim poet Feroze Din Sharaf, reformist-scientist Ruchi Ram Sahni, who was a pioneer of science popularisation in Punjab and Gama Pahalwan, wrestler and patron of fine art, Punjab has been the inspiration for some of the finest stories of our times. Since this land was always under attack, it houses a rich bank of stories, of wars, conflicts, love, betrayal,” feels Sangeet Natak Akademi’s chairman Kamal Tewari, adding how Saadat Hasan Manto (his Toba Tek Singh was fantastic), Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s pathos, Amrita Pritam’s works, Nanak Singh’s novels, Ajit Cour’s writings, Baba Bulleh Shah’s sufism will make for excellent screenplays. Food for thought, isn’t it...



Nov 5, 2009
Bangalore, India
There are some more unsung Punjabi heroes like Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha, Captain Mohan Singh (The founder of Indian National Army in Singapore) whose contributions fell silent owing to various political reasons. I hope some film maker also focuses on their heroism and brings it out to the world. Though the INA movement is quite known, there is little knowledge of the Gadar movement led by Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha among the Indians.
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