Singhu border: Farmers protest by day, watch religious films by night
After spending his day raising slogans, holding placards, and creating awareness among people about the farmers’ protest, Ranjodh Singh, 26, a dairy farmer from Jagraon village in Ludhiana district now spends his evenings watching devotional movies on the “big screen” at the Singhu border.
“I stand near the stage holding these placards to create awareness among those visiting the protest site. With the speeches wrapping up by evening, there isn’t much to do after that,” he said.
“But for the past two days, we have been watching movies on the big screen here.”
On Wednesday, an 8x12-feet LED screen was set up near a langar spot a few hundred metres away from the green United Farmers Front stage set up at the Singhu border.
For the past two days, hundreds of protesting farmers have been attending the screening of a two-part 3D animated movie called Chaar Sahibzaade directed by Harry Baweja. The farmers said the two-hour historical drama movie, popular in Punjab, is based on the sacrifices of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
“We sit by the langar and watch the movie during dinner. It is a lot like having a meal at home with family. Through this movie, people will learn more about our culture and it will help in dispelling wrong notions about us or our struggles,” he said.
The LED screen has been set up by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to provide the protesting farmers with some relief.
Maan Singh, who is in charge of the screenings held at the spot, said, “Though our focus is on films detailing the history of our culture, we also screen short documentaries on farmers or play shabad-kirtans. The attendees seem to enjoy it as it provides them with a break from the day’s protest activities.”
Shoaib Malik, a volunteer at the spot who handles the equipment, said people came up to him on Friday and asked which movie would be screened at night.
Eighteen-year-old Gurnool Singh, who hails from Amritsar, was among them. “We were walking towards the langar at night when we noticed the movie playing on the LED screen. We had seen the movie in the theatre when it released a few years ago. To watch it under the open sky with hundreds of farmers is a different experience. We want the organisers to screen more educational content related to farming and agriculture.”
After videos of the screening were posted on social media, many labelled it a luxury.
“These are attempts to discredit our movement somehow. If an organisation has set up screens and is playing inspirational movies, what is the harm in that?” said Sandeep Singh, a farmer who hails from Khai Phemeki village in Ferozepur district. “I couldn’t catch the complete movie for the last couple of days. But I will definitely visit the spot early today to see what movie they pick today [Friday].”
Similar screenings have been held at Tikri border by independent artists and directors who have showcased their documentaries on farming and agriculture.