Real-life Emotional Story of Sarabjit To Hit Screens
The many aging six-pack supermen on screen, tossing around dozens of sturdy baddies in air in mindless fight sequences and their sequels, supply perfect ingredients for a nail-biting
Rs 100-crore plus Bollywood movies. The happy-ending, often hero-centric, romantic, or even the clowning flicks, have made it big to tinsel town’s list of blockbusters.
But this upcoming flick is void of any such drama. It even doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s one biopic where the hero of the script is not triumphant by destiny, nor is he able to do the unthinkable like many of our on-screen macho-heroes. This biopic on Punjab-born Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who spent his life languishing in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat high security jail, is not just another Bollywood film–it’s a portrayal of a real-life emotional journey of exploitation of a human being for political ends under a hostile regime in adverse circumstances.
What returned of Sarabjit after 23 years in jail were his moral remains. Filmmaker Omung Kumar of Mary Kom fame and his team are trying to keep this story as original as possible, just that when Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays prominent role as Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, the least one can expect is a true portrayal of the emotional trauma that this brave-heart sister battled fearlessly.
Sarabjit Singh was convicted of terrorism and spying by a Pakistani court and sentenced to death in 1991. But the government stayed his execution for an indefinite period in 2008. He languished in Pakistani jail and died following an attack on him by Pakistani jail inmates in April 2013.
Sarabjit’s family long pleaded his innocence, citing it as a case of mistaken identity where Sarabjit inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state, but to no avail. The biopic on her brother, Dalbir Kaur says, is a purposeful way to depict the true story in a mature manner. She said: “It is a sensitive topic.
I am hoping that not only people of my own country, but also everywhere else, see the movie that highlights the plight of Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails.”
Kaur wants the movie to epitomise a broader picture–that of sufferings of
Indian prisoners hopelessly languishing in jails without legal aid. The family has been privy to sufferings that Sarabjit went through for over two decades behind bars. His daughters were toddlers when they lost the support of their father.
Kaur says part of the proceeds of the film will be used for providing legal assistance to help Indian prisoners come out of Pakistani jails. She hopes the film captures the plight of prisoners lodged across the border. The film is expected to hit theaters across the country and elsewhere by the year-end, or even before.
It’s both different and difficult as a biopic. That’s because the facts surrounding Sarabjit’s life and eventually his tragic death cannot be altered or devoid of real facts. The upcoming movie is touching upon a sensitive subject, of fragile cross-border relationship and about exploitation in jails for meeting political ends.
Sarabjit died after he was attacked in the head by sharp weapons and left profusely bleeding in a Lahore jail. The incident sparked national outrage in India, attracted the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs and left Sarabjit’sfamily in utter shock and dismay.
The news of the attack on Sarabjit and his battle for life in a civil hospital in Pakistan came at a time when there was clear hope that the Pakistan government could free Sarabjit anytime soon. But that wasn’t Sarabjit’s destiny.
The movie, while it revolves around an “innocent man” languishing in a hostile foreign jail and his struggle to keep afloat, is also about the hardships of Sarabjit’s family and the unflinching struggle of a sister–running from pillar to post in the corridors of power– to get her brother out of the Pakistani jail. She failed. Sarabjit body was brought home to his native village in Bhikhiwind of Tarn Taran district in Punjab tightly wrapped in a white cloth for his last rites.
His wife, who lived a life of a widow, was finally a widow. Rajesh Beri, the writer of the film, has been closely associated with the family, even during the days of their struggle to free Sarabjit from the dungeons of Pakistan prisons.
Sarabjit’s daughter Swapandeep says the movie is an emotional journey for her. “I am glad the issue will be addressed and draw the attention of a larger audience. But it’s not easy for us to relive those days although the pain never left us,” Swapandeep says.
The upcoming movie has already courted a controversy. Baljinder Kaur, who says she is the real sister of Sarabjit, has sent a notice to director Omung Kumar and actor Aishwarya Rai.
Baljinder Kaur, who claims Dalbir Kaur is not the real sister, has said that she is not against the movie on the life of her brother who died for his country. “All I want is that his real story be shown to people and not what is being portrayed,” she said.
She is even ready for a DNA test to prove the veracity of her claim that she is, in fact, Sarabjit’s sister. The fact also remains that Baljinder was hardly involved in the campaign spearheaded by Dalbir Kaur for the release of Sarabjit from Pakistan prison.
Baljinder has also attached a copy of her family tree. She even rubbishes popular perception that her brother strayed over to Pakistan in an inebriated condition. Instead, she claims her brother was an agent of intelligence agencies and his sacrifice should not be undermined or denigrated by portraying him as someone who crossed the border
under the influence of liquor.