Sikh history hasn’t been documented well and some of the versions available are inaccurate

Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur

Written by Jagmeeta Thind Joy | Chandigarh | Published:November 9, 2016 5:31 am
Chaar Sahibzaade, film Chaar Sahibzaade, Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur, Harry Baweja, latest news Singer and composer Rabbi Shergill (left) with director Harry Baweja at a mall in Industrial Area in Chandigarh Tuesday. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

In city to launch the official trailer of his new film Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur on Tuesday, director Harry Baweja said that of the many reactions his first animation film in 2014 Chaar Sahibzaade got, one is always of strong emotions and expressions — misty eyed mothers and equally sombre children coming out of the movie halls after having watched the animation film based on the sacrifices made by the sons of the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

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“Which is why making the sequel was all the more challenging. People’s expectations from the second film are much, much higher now,” said Baweja.

The director was in Chandigarh with singer Rabbi Shergill. The latter has sung one of the seven songs that feature in the film, which will hit the screens on November 11. Working on a film based on Sikh history comes with its own set of challenges, admits the director. “Especially when it is based on Sikh Gurus and their lives.

Unfortunately, Sikh history hasn’t been documented well and some of the versions available are inaccurate,” said Baweja. Keeping religious sensitivities in mind and also the fact that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) keeps a hawk eye on creative projects of this kind, Baweja says he chose to play safe right from the drawing board.

“I am not a historian and for guidance I approached the SGPC whose dharam prachar committee deals with such things. I spent a lot of time researching at the SGPC library and with their team of historians. Finally, I got the script approved to avoid discrepancies,” informs Baweja. He dismisses the argument that such control would curb a director’s freedom and vision. “On the contrary, it helped me present the story in the truest form,” he says.

Taking the film forward, Baweja explains how he wanted to showcase the story of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, a Sikh military commander known for bravery and courage. “We had a huge chunk on him in the first film but had to edit it out due to time constraints. I felt his story deserved a full film,” says Baweja, who has once again roped in animation experts from studios in India and London. “We have used softwares used in films like Lord of the Rings in 3D,” said Baweja who feels history presented in such a way will have an impact not just on children but adults as well. “Animation has helped me present an important part of Sikh history, tell stories that otherwise would be lost to this generation,” said the director who has kept the names of the voice-over artists in the films anonymous.

“Unlike Hollywood that has leading actors lend their voice to animated characters, I didn’t want the focus to shift from the characters in the film to the actors,” admits Baweja. Barring actor Om Puri who is the narrator in the film, names of other voices will not be disclosed. The film, adds singer Rabbi Shergill, also pays an ode to the Sufi poet and philosopher Baba Bulleh Shah who was very active during the same time as Banda Singh Bahadur. “I have sung Bulleh Shah’s Hun Kis Thee in the film,” said Shergill. Other singers in the film include Sukhwinder Singh, Nooran sisters and Diljit Dosanjh.