More than eight decades after Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British, a play on the freedom fighter's life, 'Mera Rang De Basanti Chola', will be performed in his ancestral village in Pakistan.
Produced by the acclaimed Ajoka theatre group, the play will be staged on Saturday at Bangay Government Primary School, the institution that Bhagat Singh attended in Faisalabad district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
The play, written by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Madeeha Gauhar, was first staged two years ago, but this is the first time it will be performed in the martyr's village.
"It (the play) was long overdue. It is our humble effort to tell people about this great freedom fighter," Gauhar told PTI.
"Bhagat Singh is missing from Pakistan's history and its narrative of the freedom struggle. This is a way of correcting the historical distortion," she added.
The play is based on the struggle of the freedom fighter, who was hanged by the British rulers in Lahore Central Jail on March 23, 1931. It is also the first original drama on Bhagat Singh to be produced by a Pakistani theatre group.
"Ajoka is proud to have initiated this historical celebration as we believe that we should not forget our heroes just because they are non-Muslims," Gauhar said.
A roundabout called Shadman Chowk now stands at the site where Bhagat Singh was hanged. The authorities had decided to rename the roundabout after the martyr in October last year, but the plan had to be put on hold because of opposition from hardliner groups such the Jamaat-ud-Dawah.
"The house where Bhagat Singh lived still exists. A refugee from Gurdaspur (Punjab) now stays there. He has tried his best to keep it the same old way," Gauhar said.
"We have to let people know about Bhagat Singh. The actor who is playing his role has done a documentary on how he discovered Bhagat Singh," she added.
"He asked his fellow students at Pakistan's premier art college who Bhagat Singh was. Answers varied from him being a thief to a Muslim slayer. The closest was when someone said actor Ajay Devgn has played the role of Bhagat Singh," she said, ruing the fact that not many in Pakistan knew about the freedom fighter.
The play, according to Gauhar, "is a long-overdue tribute to one of the most influential revolutionary leaders of the independence movement and one of the most charismatic sons of Punjab."
In the play, the tale of the fearless 23-year-old revolutionary is interwoven with other stories of heroic characters.
The play starts with the investigation of a murder in 1974, which brings police officials to the site of the Lahore Central Jail where they discover links between their probe and Bhagat Singh's story.
The story is narrated by Baba Bhoga, a sweeper in the jail who became Bhagat Singh's close friend. While carrying on their investigation, the police officials learn fascinating facts about the martyr.
The story is interspersed with folk songs sung in praise of Bhagat Singh and his comrades in the freedom struggle.