The Legend Of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Will Live On (On The Anniversary Of The Execution Of Bhagat Singh)
I had listened to the story of the young and fiery Bhagat Singh who fought for the freedom of India in his own way from my ninety –seven year old friend, the one-time actor and filmmaker Chandrashekhar Vaidya. He had vividly described the way the young Bhagat Singh had first shot dead Lawrence Sanders who was responsible for killing the senior and most respected freedom fighter, Lala Lajpat Rai and had then been joined by some of his young fellow freedom fighters like Rajguru and Sukhdev had hurled bombs in a place of power.
Shekhar Sahab relived that morning when Bhagat Singh who was now known as Shaheed (Martyr) Bhagat Singh and his friends walked up to the gallows in pre-partition Lahore on March 23, 1931 with Bharat and Azaadi in his heart and on his lips. He turned into an ideal and an idol that inspired thousands of young men to know how important it was to fight for freedom from the British Empire, even at the risk of losing one’s life.
The fight for freedom continued even after Bhagat Singh’s execution and the execution of hundreds of other men (and even women) till India attained total Independence from the British Empire. Shaheed Bhagat Singh was one who was given the greatest honour and respect when a portrait of his was unveiled in the first Indian House of Parliament.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh is still remembered by most Indians, especially on his date of birth (September 28, 1907) and the day he was executed (March 23, 1931). There are statues placed in different parts of the country, there are roads and squares named after him and his life is an important chapter in history books from the school level to the Universities where his life is still one of the important subjects to be studied.
But, frankly, how many of our youth today remember or even know the name Shaheed Bhagat Singh? This morning as India was observing the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, I went around asking some young people if they had heard about Shaheed Bhagat Singh and I was ashamed to be an Indian to know that not one of the young people I talked to had heard of him. Some of them stared at my face as if I was a mad man and showed their ignorance and their audacity of asking, “Shaheed, who you said?”.
If there is one section of Indians who have kept the legend of Shaheed Bhagat Singh alive, it is the Hindi film industry and whatever the reasons they may have had for making their films, one thing is sure, they have done for and to Bhagat Singh what no other institution, organisation or even the Governments from time to time have never done. It is in this light that I remember some of the significant films made on a larger than life hero like Shaheed Bhagat Singh…
SHAHEED-E-AZAD BHAGAT SINGH- This is the first film based on Bhagat Singh’s life. The film was directed by Jagdish Gautam and had Prem Adeeb, Jairaj, Smriti Biswas and Ashita Mazumdar playing lead roles. SHAHEED BHAGAT SINGH- Ten years after “Shaheed-e-Azad Bhagat Singh” was released, Shammi Kapoor played the martyr in “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”. The film was directed by KN Bansal and besides Shammi Kapoor, the film starred Shakeela, Premnath, Ulhas and Achla Sachdev
SHAHEED- Starring Manoj Kumar, this film was immensely popular. The film won awards for Best Feature Film in Hindi, the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration and Best Story Award at the 13th National Film Awards. The film bears the name of S. Ram Sharma as the director but all those who were aware of the film knew that the film was the complete creation of Manoj Kumar who not only wrote the film, indirectly directed the film and also played the title role. For the next three decades and more, there were no more films thought of or made on Bhagat Singh but there was a spurt of films on the character from history which began in 2002…
SHAHEED-E-AZAM- It was one of the three films released in 2002 based on Bhagat Singh’s life. Sonu Sood played the role of Bhagat Singh. The film was made by the younger generation of the Sagars (Ramanand Sagar) but it failed to make any impact.
23rd MARCH 1931: SHAHEED- Starring Sunny Deol ,Bobby Deol and Amrita Singh, the film depicted the events leading up to the hanging of Bhagat Singh and his companions Rajguru and Sukhdev.
THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH- This film showed in detail how Singh came to develop his views on the British Raj and his struggle for Indian independence. Ajay Devgn played the role of Bhagat Singh and won the National Award for his performance.
RANG DE BASANTI-This film became a huge hit among youngsters and won several awards. Starring big stars such as Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi and Kunal Kapoor among others, the film was about revolutionaries of Bhagat Singh’s era and covers Bhagat Singh’s role in the Indian freedom struggle.
There are attempts still being made to find out other details about the life and struggles of Bhagat Singh. There are some filmmakers who are even willing to create fiction around his brave story, like trying to imagine if the twenty-three year old freedom fighter who was also a multi-talented personality could have had a love life, but I wonder if the genuine followers of Bhagat Singh will accept such a imaginary story.
In the meanwhile, politicians of every party are busy trying to make the best “use” of Bhagat Singh and even exploit his story to suit their selfish purposes and are right now heard screaming, “desh ka neta kaisa ho, Bhagat Singh jaisa ho”. But will we ever have another Bhagat Singh?
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