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Mexican jungles to ‘lokan da jungle’: Short film highlights Punjab youth abandoning US dream to participate in farm stir

"Jungle", a short Punjabi film released online, has brought back into focus the plight of those young farmers from Punjab, who want to leave their land for better life in the US and Canada.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: December 23, 2020 8:29:11 am
The film has been screened for the protesting farmers at Tikri border and other screenings are now being organized in the villages of Sangrur, Barnala and Mansa districts.

Bhai, pahunch gaya Mexican wale junglan ch? (Brother, have you reached the jungles in Mexico?)”, asks Manjit as attends a call from his friend Kirtipal Singh while participating in the farmers’ agitation. “Bhai Mexican junglan daan taan pata nahi, par apne lokan de jungle ch zaroor pahunch gaya (Brother, I don’t know about Mexican junlges, but I have certainly reached the jungle of our people),” comes the reply from Kirtipal who is seen standing outside the protest site.

“Jungle”, a short Punjabi film released online, has brought back into focus the plight of those young farmers from Punjab, who want to leave their land for better life in the US and Canada. From paying lakhs to the travel agents to taking “donkey flights” through thick jungles of Mexico and Panama to reach the US, the path to foreign lands has never been an easy one for the Punjabi youths. The alluring prospects of a better future have always given wings to Punjabi youths’ Canadian and US dreams. However, this time, the story is different. Earlier planning to leave Punjab and settle abroad, the young farmers are now opting to stay back and participate in the ongoing agitation against the three central agri laws.

Directed by a young filmmaker Navjeet Lovely (25) from Barnala’s Dhanaula, the short film narrates the story of one such young farmer Kirtipal Singh, who decides to pay a huge amount to a travel agent to reach the US before his conscience gets better of him. The film has been screened for the protesting farmers at Tikri border and other screenings are now being organized in the villages of Sangrur, Barnala and Mansa districts.

The nearly 12-minute long film portrays the dilemma of the young farmers of Punjab who on one hand are strongly connected to their land and want to stay here but are forced to think of migrating to the foreign lands given the agrarian crisis.

Navjeet Lovely, who is also a theatre artiste, says, “Many youngsters from Punjab are now giving up their dream to move abroad and are staying back to participate in the ongoing agitation. The film’s protagonist is one such young farmer who dreams of moving to the US for better life. He even decides to pay Rs 10 lakh to the travel agents. But his conscience does not allow him to leave Punjab when farmers are leading a massive agitation for their rights and need youths to support them. Finally he decides to be with his own people and live here. He reaches the protest site instead of taking the flight to the US.”

On the title of the film, Navjeet says, “The ongoing farmers’ agitation is a collective fight of the people for their rights. This agitation represents their strength. It is a jungle of the people, a force, a collective effort.”

The nearly 12-minute long film portrays the dilemma of the young farmers of Punjab who on one hand are strongly connected to their land and want to stay here but are forced to think of migrating to the foreign lands given the agrarian crisis. In one such conversation, Kirtipal tells his friend Manjit, “Ho sakda hai eh apni aakhri mulaaqat hove, main 10 lakh dena agent nu… tainu taan pata hi hai kinna khajjal khuar karde ne… eh vi ni pata jeundey jee pahunchna jaa nahi (Maybe it is our last meeting. I have to give Rs 10 lakh to the agent. You know well how they harass everyone. I don’t even know if I will reach there alive)”.

Reminding him that they had promised each other to live and die in Punjab, Manjit who isn’t happy with his friend’s decision to migrate, says, “Tey kine keha si maut de moo ch hatth paun nu, tu aap hi taan kehenda si ki Punjab hi maraange, Punjab ch hi jeevange. Jaan taan maidaan ch vadd ke lado, jaa chadd ke baahar bhajj jo.. chuneya dovan ne pehlan hi si, tu faisla badal leya (Who told you to opt for death? You used to say that we will live and die in Punjab only. We should either enter the battlefield and fight or run away abroad. We both opted the first way but you changed your decision)”.

The film ends with a powerful message via lyrics penned and sung by Sarabjeet Singh Rupal. Rupal writes, “Je datey rahe taan jitt jaavange, jey chup ho gaye taan mitt jaavange.. oh karu zamana yaad saanu, panney aise likh jaavange. Lutt laina Punjab da sona, laun scheman bade hi chir dey, Enne vi ni saste ho gaye, ki kodiyaan de bhaav bik jaavanage (We will win if we we continue the fight, we will be finished if we go quiet. World will remember us, we will write such a story. Plans were on since long to loot Punjab’s gold but our conscience isn’t that cheap that we can be sold)”.

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