Once Upon a Time

More than the songs of the saints and the flourishing golden era,Sukhwinder Singh is taken by the dark ages,a black hole in the Sikh history that has little record and account.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published:October 7, 2012 2:23 am

More than the songs of the saints and the flourishing golden era,Sukhwinder Singh is taken by the dark ages,a black hole in the Sikh history that has little record and account. An animator,director and CEO of Mohali-based Vismaad Mediatech Pvt Ltd,Singh has been digging the past,the 1740s to be precise. “The Sikhs were being targeted from all corners,punished and killed,and there is no written documentation of this period”,says Singh,who decided to research the missing links and present it in his own way — one that would be entertaining,educative and informative,and primarily involve children. “So we set up Vismaad in 2004,which marked 300 years of martyrdom of the five Sahibzaade,and made an animation feature on them,” says Singh.

Driven by passion and encouraged by positive response from India and abroad,Singh went on to making animation features on legends like Banda Singh Bahadur,the women Sikh warriors,in Sundri,Bhai Taru Singh,and the latest,Bhai Subeg Singh. “The story takes off from where Bhai Taru Singh ends,” says Singh,who will have the Chandigarh premiere of the film on October 7 at Bhargava Auditorium,PGI.

A learned man,Bhai Subeg Singh,as the story goes,was a master in mathematics,Persian and economics. His superior intellect and illustrious nature landed him a job at the Lahore Court,where he played a key role in critical negotiations between the Court and Dal Khalsa. His teenage son,Shahbaz Singh,too was exceptionally intelligent,handsome and promising. “But those were testing political times and,in a conspiracy hatched against the father-son,they were told to choose between faith and life. They chose faith and were tied to wheels and dragged,” narrates Singh,who sourced information from Giani Dit Singh and Rattan Singh Bhangu of Pracheen Pant Parkash,and kathas of different pracharaks,for the film. The movie has already been screened in over 40 cities overseas and in India.

Without sounding religious or preachy,Singh says his films are light because his aim is to show them to children. “We are losing our faith and moral code. We know little of our history and culture. Animation is the best way to engage children and instill values,” says Singh. Through the films,he revives grandma tales,folklore and village sports like khida khundi (akin to hockey),gilli dunda,horse racing and so on.

Apart from the film,Singh’s company is also creating e-learning for kids,where they can log on and learn the Gurmukhi alphabet and script. For his next feature,he has picked up works of UK-based writer Roop Singh and is converting them into an eight-episode series called The Adventures of Roop Singh. But the most ambitious project Singh is working on is sikhville.org,an online television and movies channel where they will showcase their series and animations. “A couple of years back,this was tough to create and sell,but technology has empowered us to take our product to millions and at no cost,” says Singh,adding that their animation on Sahibzaade has crossed 1,40,000 hits on YouTube in the last one year. The film was released in 2004.

Catch the film on Sunday,October 7,at PGI Bhargava Auditorium,6 pm

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