Silver screen salutes Punjabiyat from Sarabha to Yamla

Perhaps it was the first moment in the history, when the successors watched the life story of their heroes of the history of Punjab, Those heroes who had written the name of country and punjabiyat with golden letters in history. Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, soldier Mul Singh and Lal Chand Yamla Jatt, had their own individuality. We bow in front of them with honor and pride, for their selfless sacred deeds. Young film maker Navalpreet Rangi is also doing something, which inspires us to think. I was also lost in deep thoughts, when I was watching all this with my wide open eyes.

You must be thinking what this all puzzle is? Actually I was also struggling with similar thoughts when I was returning to Delhi from Chandigarh. I was coming back from the international historic film festival…

Day one, 18th November 2009, 6.00 PM

Campus around the Sarojini Hall was the most happening place in Punjab University, Chandigarh at that moment. It seemed like every youngster is walking towards us. Holding Mashal (Torch) and candles in hand, Navalpreet Rangi was standing with the mixed emotions of excitement and tension on his face. A cold evening was on its full swing. Torches were lit, candles were twinkling, and eyes were brightened. When the single enthused youngsters turned into caravan of inqualab? No one knows. The ratio of participating girls and boys were not as serious as the sex ratio of Punjab. It was clear that, modern educated youth is aware about its social responsibilities. The caravan of Mashaal Yatra marched in the university campus. Feet with the Hands, Hands with the torches and torches with the slogans of inqualab zindabad were walking together. Along with awakening like the flame of torch, mashaal yatra was an invitation to attend the historical film festival starting next morning. Perhaps no one knew that it is going to create a history. It was journey I had gone through by the way of experiences shared by students; let’s walk through the journey which I traveled through my eyes.

Boys Hostel #1, Block 1, Room #19, 1.30 AM

After finishing my work at Delhi office, I board a bus around 8 pm and reached at the gate of boy’s hostel number one, inside Panjab University campus. Rangi’s cell phone and room number 19 was sleeping a silent and sound sleep. After a little bit of effort I got to know that I have to sleep in a shared room of boy’s hostel. I was jumping in excitement and was not able to conceal my happiness, as I had got the chance to live like a university student. I slept a sound sleep in a shared blanket. After seeing a bunch of torches beside the bed in the morning, I got to know that that room was headquarter of film festival organizers and the host, Manmohan Singh, was a researcher of psychology, who was welcoming every one with his captivating smile.

The terror of Swine Flu and Inqalaab

Day two 19 November, 10 AM

After having a breakfast of gilla paranthas (it is an adjective used for a parantha with floating butter over in university’s mess) and dhudh patti (Milk Tea) at hostel’s mess when I reached at students center, there was all mess. Volunteers were settling down chairs, a partition of board was prepared to be silver screen and projector was focused over it. Finally I learned that because outbreak of swine flu in Chandigarh and two positive students found in hostel, vice chancellor had cancelled all the events. But guests were already there, some aged guests came from far places. It was impossible to postpone the festival, so though at small hall show must go on. At last, show was migrated to students centre from Law Auditorium. This migration was not such devastating like the mass migration of 1947 or today’s migration of labor from UP-Bihar to Punjab, so every one accepted it. Finally, though a little bit delayed and with lots of discrepancies show started. Silent scenes were running on screen, displaying the real picture of Indian army men deployed in First and Second World War.

Grandsons of Mul Singh and Colonel(retd.) Chanan Singh Dhillon watching movies.

First movie displayed was, siphahi Mul Singh di half moon file. It is a saga which remained silent for a long period of a century. It is a story of soldier, a Punjabi villager of malwa region, a war prisoner in Germany during First World War. He used to relish paranthas with floating butter over it. He worked hard and enjoyed his life at his village. British army deployed him in world war one with the false promise of care taking his family left behind. After a century his recorded voice came to light. He was dieing with hunger in German prison and his family in his village far away. British forgot to take care of him and his family in India like other families of millions of Indian soldiers, who were used in world war. Mul Singh did farming in his latter years. Now, Mul Singh’s grandsons are also having grandsons and granddaughters, but they are still struggling for pension, so that they can fulfill their daily needs. Another documentary made on the same audio recording, Prisoner’s Song was displayed during film festival. In prisoner’s song retired colonel Parminder Singh Randhawa (the organizer) has described, how the wars of civilizations were culminated as the most uncivilized tragedy of human race. Surprising thing behind this documentary is, German film maker Philip Scheffner discover the lost voice of Mul Singh from archive. Brought up in India, producer-director Michael Singh has used the best film techniques in this documentary film. He has pointed out that German’s salute those soldiers of India, who have sacrificed their lives to defend civilization, while Indian politicians had ignored them as they are busy in power play. Families of these martyrs are dieing of hunger and waiting for pensions. The ‘silent documentary’ running on the wrinkled faces of grandson’s of Mul Singh was more heart wrenching than any other documentary. Documentary Film, Prisoner’s song was the masterpiece of technique and presentation.

A scene from the documentary 'Main Bhagat Singh'

The most awaited documentary Bhagat Singh, produced-directed by Navalpreet Rangi was the soul of the festival. In this documentary Rangi has not only revisited the life history of young martyr, he also has tried to shake our traditional approach of considering Bhagat Singh as a terrorist and portrayed him as an intellectual revolutionary. Nephew of Bhagat Singh Prof. Jagmohan Singh said in his address to audience that Bhagat Singh was of the opinion that we should possess the power of rationalism. To acquire this weapon, we have to read literature and analyze circumstances with broader approach.

Despite of many mismanagements, back outs and the terror of swine flu the important phase of film festival was successfully concluded.

Sufi music with young flavor, Day two, 7 pm

As the sun was setting down, the urge for Sufi music was growing. Around 7 pm, every chair inside the English Auditorium was occupied. Sufi singer from Chandigarh, Mamta Joshi was ready in her glittering attire and Sufi style turban. Mamta Joshi and her accompanist enthralled the audience by singing soulful poetry of Sultan Bahu, Shiv Kumar Batalvi and Shah Hussain and of some other famous Sufi saints. She also sang popular folk songs of Punjab. Mattresses were spread out on the stairways to sit down, as the auditorium was over flooded.

Standing Lovers of Sufi Music


Many spectators were even standing. Youngsters were enjoying their own style of Sufi music. Now the wrinkles of tension were transformed into sprinkles of joy on the face of Rangi. Finally, every one way going back home with smiling faces.

Third and Final Day, 20th November, 10 AM

Though, a smaller auditorium was approved for the final day. Was it because of changed venues or less interest of youngsters? The small hall was now looking big as most of the chairs were unoccupied. In the beginning of final day two documentaries, screened on first day, were screened again. After that, documentary about drug addiction was screened. By this film, celebrities of Punjab appealed youngsters to get out from the net of drugs, because it is poisoning the roots of Punjab. Documentaries about Kartar Singh Sarabha, Udham Singh and Lal Chand Yamla Jatt, were most fascinating for the day. Audience, though countable on fingers, was captivated by them. These movies are worth of archive. It is worth mentioning that Documentary about Yamla Jatt was the product of hard work by Rangi and his writer friend Ranjan Nadaan. A documentary produced and directed by writer and film maker Reema Anand, Based on the innovating education system of Akal Academy Baru Sahib was also screened. Anand, herself was present on the occasion as chief guest. In her address she said, though we have a small audience today, but they are representatives of their own spheres. They will carry this massage of awakened youth to their peer groups. She said the future of Punjab and India is in the hands of youth. They have to take initiative to fulfill their social responsibilities by taking inspiration from their history and tradition. In the end, a slide show of pictures captured during the festival by photo artist Moonstar Kaur was also displayed. Colonel Parminder Singh Radhawa thanked the team and audience.

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