-CAPT AMARINDER TERMS IT AN IMPORTANT STEP TO CREATE AWARENESS ABOUT VITAL PART OF SIKH HISTORY
S.A.S Nagar (Mohali): As the words of Havaldar Ishar Singh echoed through the still night, there were tears in the eyes of many among the audience. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, whose book on the historic Battle of Saragarhi had inspired the amazing fusion of sight and sound, could also be seen turning emotional.
The Sight and Sound show on the Battle of Saragarhi came alive here on Tuesday evening against the backdrop of a digital set, showcased on a 50 feet LED screen. As Havaldar Ishar Singh delivered those motivational words, underlining the call of duty that had led the 21 Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army to their deaths while fighting the Pashtun Orakzai tribesmen, there was a chilling silence among the audience. It appeared as though the battle of 12th September, 1897, was being replayed in front of their eyes, more than a century after it was valiantly fought by the men belonging to 36th Sikhs.
Speaking before the start of the show, the Chief Minister lauded it as yet another step towards commemorating the event that had, over the years, got covered under the sands of time. The Chief Minister, who has been instrumental in bringing the important event back into the limelight with his book, said such shows could help create the much-needed awareness about the battle that is a vital part of Sikh history.
Keen for today’s generation to imbibe the spirit of gallantry with which the 21 soldiers took on the mighty force of the Afghan tribesmen, the Chief Minister pointed out that his government had also announced his government’s decision to incorporate the Battle of Saragarhi in school curriculum in Punjab.
The Sight and Sound show could further help in propagating the spirit underlying the battle, said Captain Amarinder Singh, adding that this most famous `Last Stands’ in military history should become a symbol of inspiration and motivation for the younger generations.
According to Harbaksh Latta, the producer and co-scripter of the show, it took them eight months to weave together the tapestry of the events of that momentous day. The book penned by Captain Amarinder Singh inspired him to take up the subject for his new Sight & Sound show – a concept that he says is different from the Light & Show on account of being a fusion of theatre and film. And the book, titled `Saragarhi and the Defence of the Samana Forts: The 36th Sikhs in the Tirah Campaign 1897-98’, became his chief source of all the research he needed to do for the realization of the concept, says Latta, who co-scripted the show with Keshav Bhrata.
The one-hour show, choreographed by 45 artistes/actors, is predominantly in rural Punjabi language, which the soldiers who fought the Battle mainly spoke. The Pashtun soldiers are seen speaking rustic Urdu while the British use a mix of English and Hindi in the show.
This was the third screening of the show – the first being in Patiala during the Heritage Festival, followed by another at the War Museum in Amritsar.
The show has been produced at a cost of Rs. 9 lakh, the bulk of which went into arranging the historic uniforms/dresses, replicating the guns used in the battle and getting the 36th Sikhs badges designed.
Besides several retired Army officials, the show was attended by Army Commander (Western Command) Lt. Gen. Surinder Singh; Corp Commander Lt. Gen A S Kler; GoC 1st Armoured Div Maj. Gen. JS Sandhu; and Col. Of the Sikh Regiment currently commandment IMA, Lt, Gen SK Jha.