Every September 12, the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army observes Saragarhi Day to commemorate the martyrdom of 21 Sikh soldiers holed up at Fort Lockhart in 1897 in the village of Saragarhi located today in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region on the border with Afghanistan. Led by Havildar Ishar Singh, they died fighting hordes of Afghan tribesmen, numbering between 12,000 and 24,000, inflicting serious casualties in the enemy camp. They may have been fighting for the British Raj, but their saga of bravery has inspired generations of Indian soldiers.
Sunday marked yet another anniversary of the battle, and it would have passed without anyone caring to take notice, had Bollywood actor Ranveer Hooda not tweeted about it. He was cast in a film that was to recreate the battle and resurrect Ishar Singh from the footnotes of history.
The film project was shelved because of the Akshay Kumar-starrer “Kesari”, which was on the same theme, and was regarded as a bigger box-office draw. Hence Hooda’s tweet.
“Some movies never get made but the stories live on forever,” the actor tweeted, adding: “It was a certain inevitable death but the decision to take a stand despite the odds and not show their backs to the enemy marks this 6.5-hour fierce battle to the death as one of the greatest last stands in the armed history of the world.”
Later, replying to a tweet, Hooda noted: “Three gurudwaras have been made in their memory. This one is near the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akal.” All three — on each in Saragarhi, Ferozepur, and Amritsar — were built by a grateful British Indian Army.
His Battle of Saragarhi film may not have seen the light of day, but Randeep has multiple projects in the pipeline, including the web series “Inspector Avinash” and the films “Unfair & Lovely” and “Rat on a Highway”.