Gadar – A unique love story in the midst of the Greatest Human Migration in History

Every year on August 15, India celebrates the removal of British rule. That day in 1947 began with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic address to the world “..We made a tryst with destiny..”.

On that historic day, only man in the world foresaw the enormous tragedy that was about to overwhelm both India and Pakistan. That man was Gandhi, who understood India better than any one else. But no one was listening to him at that time; not Nehru, not Jinnah, the man responsible for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Gandhi turned to be totally right about the utterly terrible consequences of the partition of India.

As an aside, the partition of India has proved to be a momentous event for America as well. Simply out, 9/11 would never have happened without the partition of India and today’s Global War on Terror would be unnecessary.

The partition of India in 1947 created the greatest migration in human history. The partition of Indian Panjab left a huge number of Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan’s half of Panjab and an equally huge number of Muslims in India’s half of Panjab. This produced an exchange of populations which became unbelievably vicious and savage.

By September 1947, “five million human beings would clog the roads and the fields of the Punjab” wrote LaPierre and Collins in their remarkable book “Freedom at Midnight”. They further wrote “Ten and a half million people would be uprooted , most of them in the brief span of three months”. They described the number as “enough to form, if they joined hands, a column stretching from Calcutta to New York”.

The authors described this number in the following words “This unprecedented exodus would create ten times the number of refugees the creation of Israel would produce in the Middle East, three or four times the number of displaced persons who’d fled eastern Europe after the war” (emphasis ours).

To see how such savagery began and how madness gripped human beings, watch the clip below from Gadar.

In the middle of this utter insanity, there were tender movements, where individuals forgot their religions and looked at each other as human beings.

“Gadar, Ek Prem Katha” (Gadar, a Love Story), is an exquisitely beautiful movie about two such human beings who find love in the middle of that madness in 1947.  The first half of Gadar is hauntingly poetic. It brings to the viewer the terrible savagery of men obsessed with religion and it shows how a sudden moment of love can wipe away the storm of hate.

Tara Singh (played phenomenally by Sunny Deol) is a Sikh truck-driver who meets an aristocratic Muslim girl Sukeena (Amisha Patel) when making deliveries to her college before the partition. They meet again after the partition at the train station where Sukeena is desperately trying to escape a mob that was chasing her. Tara Singh’s parents and sisters in Pakistan had been murdered by Muslim mobs and he was seeking revenge on Muslims in his town. He bumps in to Sukeena and recognizes her. This is the moment when the madness lifts from his eyes and he turns into Sukeena’s protector. This is an incredible scene which has to be seen and not read. Watch it in (the middle of) the clip below:

Tara Singh protects Sukeena and hides her in his home braving the anger of his community. After a few days, he takes her in his truck and begins a drive to Pakistan to drop her off. Again, the events of the journey need to be viewed in the clip below and not read.

As the convoy nears the Pakistani border, Sukeena cannot imagine leaving Tara Singh. The scene in which she proposes to Tara Singh is unique. Tara is overjoyed. But convincing his uncle is another story. Watch both scenes in the clip below:

Sukeena finds out that her father is alive in Pakistan. She contacts him and goes to Pakistan to meet him. Her father refuses to accept her marriage with Tara Singh and forcibly holds her in Pakistan. He also tries to force her marriage to a Pakistani military officer from a political family. Tara Singh manages to enter Pakistan with his young son and meets Sukeena. Now begins the action part of Gadar. Tara Singh’s escape from Pakistan is as visually enjoyable and as realistic a Bond movie.

If you have not seen Gadar, get a DVD and watch it. The first half of Gadar is absolutely superb. Both Sunny Deol (Tara Singh) and Amisha Patel (Sukeena) have given the performance of their careers. The second half is an entertaining Bond-like action-adventure. The final scene of the film is exquisitely Bollywood.

Gadar was a phenomenal success. It won 33 nominations and 6 awards. It was the highest grossing movie in India until eclipsed by Dhoom 2 in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, Gadar is the 6th highest grossing film of all times in India.

This is a truly must-watch film.

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