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The Great General

In the early 18th century,Sikh warrior Baba Banda Bahadur Singh set forth from Nanded in Maharashtra to Punjab...

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor |
July 1, 2010 2:18:01 am

A new film celebrates the life and exploits of Sikh general Baba Banda Bahadur Singh

 

In the early 18th century,Sikh warrior Baba Banda Bahadur Singh set forth from Nanded in Maharashtra to Punjab,where governor Wazir Khan had unleashed a rule of tyranny and brutality. He was accompanied by 25 soldiers and a hukamnama (edict) from his master,the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Banda Bahadur’s strategies and courage,still celebrated in song and lore,won the battle of Sirhind,the Mughal provincial capital which was second only to Delhi in importance. Now,Banda Bahadur’s exploits will be celebrated in Cinevision writer-director Harjinder Singh Ricky’s feature film called Baba Banda Bahadar Singh. The film,being produced by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC),was released at a press conference at the Government Art Gallery and Museum,Sector 10,on Wednesday.

Essaying the lead role is Gurpreet Singh. “I have played several Sikh characters but nothing beats this role. Playing Baba Banda was a different experience altogether. It was very inspiring,” says the actor,who has previously played Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in Raj Babbar’s Maharaja Ranjit Singh for Doordarshan.

Adds Ricky,“The idea was to take the exploits of one of the greatest warriors in Sikh history to the people,and thus showcase the history of the Sikhs to the world. Not only was Baba Banda a great warrior,but he was an ego-centric,proud man before he met Guru Gobind Singh. That one meeting changed his life and he became an amritdhaari and one of the greatest generals in Guruji’s army.”

He recounts how he got every weapon of war — from canons and guns to shields,swords,bows and arrows — custom-made,recreated scenes from history,trained his crew to fight and ride horses and elephants,and employed expensive visual effects for an epic effect. “Handling the animals was the toughest part for they were difficult to control. The elephants were hired from Ambala and Ludhiana. Each elephant consumed about 3.5 quintals of sugarcane everyday and there were six people handling each elephant. It was a big task!” he says. The film was shot in Dharak village,off Chunni,near Mohali.

Manpower,however,was the easiest to get since the SGPC secretary would send busloads of them. “But,finding the right person to play the lead took a lot of effort. The actor had to be a Gursikh (pure Sikh),an amritdhaari ,” he says. Ricky held auditions across Punjab and zeroed in on Gurpreet from Batala. Sandeep Singh and Jasmeet Singh,who played two of Baba Banda’s five main lieutenants,joined in at the press conference,both dressed as warriors. “There will be two more sequels,” says Ricky,who will be documenting Baba Banda’s life till his martyrdom.

The film also coincides with the 300th anniversary celebration of the Sirhind Fateh Divas and will soon be telecast on television.

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