If you are not too familiar with the heart-wrenching tale of four martyrs who bravely took on the wrath of the Mughals, sacrificing their lives for the freedom of humanity, then watch ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’, the historical animation film directed by Harry Baweja.
HEROES THE WORLD MUST KNOW
The names of the ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’ have been preserved in Sikh memory and are reverently uttered every day in ‘Ardas’ (prayer of supplication) at congregations or privately by an individual.
Sikh grandmothers often narrate stories of the valour of the Tenth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji and his four sons.
The younger pair (‘Chhotte Sahibzaade’), Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, is known to be the youngest pair of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for their principles and the right to practice religion and faith without coercion or the threat of terror.
Both Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh were bricked alive in Sirhind at the tender ages of nine and seven years, respectively, but they refused to bow in front of Mughal tyranny and cruelty.
The heroic tale of the battle at Chamkaur Sahib in which a mere forty defied a million has been recorded in the history of the nation. Sikhs made Sallies in batches of five to engage the enemy with sword and spear. Sahibzada Ajit Singh led one of these Sallies and sacrificed himself in battle, followed by his younger brother Sahibzada Jujhar Singh who was leading the next Sally.
Both attained martyrdom at the ages of 18 and 14 years, respectively, and fell fighting heroically.
Talking about the choice of subject for his film, Baweja says, “Every other religious text was written with a pen and paper but Sikh history has been written by the edge of the sword in blood.”
Baweja feels that Sikh history should not be confined to only Sikh community. It should be known to every community in the country and outside.
“The youth and the whole world should know what Guru Gobind Singh ji and the ‘Sahibzaade’ stood for. I wanted to tell their story above Chamkaur and Sirhind, but I was well aware I could not portray them through mere animated cartoons. Also humans cannot portray them. Thus, I came up with photorealistic 3D animation film in stereoscopic 3D which makes a strong impact on the viewer’s mind,” says Baweja.
WHAT LED TO THE SUCCESS
The filmmaker talks about what really led to the success of the film and says, “Bringing out the unheard and untold story correctly, which was till date lying in history books or was restricted to granny’s stories has led to its success.”
The journey of the filmmaker to come up with this film was not easy. It took him around five years to do proper research work and get the approval from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). He would fly from Mumbai to Amritsar every second week.
He also sat and discussed the subject matter with numerous Sikh historians. The fact that Baweja hasn’t disappointed religious and political authorities and Sikh historians has also added to the success of the film.
“In five years, I have flown from Mumbai to Amritsar at least a 100 times. It wasn’t easy for the SGPC to accept the film. I am a filmmaker after all, but having spent time with them, I have learnt they are not against period or historical films, they just believe in making them correctly,” says Baweja, adding, “I took all the pain because redoing film sequences is not an option. So, I preferred doing it cautiously and accurately right from the beginning.”
He further says, “Only the ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’ (four sons of Guru Gobind Singh ji) have been brought alive through animation and voiceover, but to keep the sanctity intact and to not hurt religious sentiments, the great Guru Gobind Singh ji’s still has been shown with a background narration given by Om Puri. The character of the Guru has not spoken or moved in the film.”