# 101 years of the Jallianwala Baug massacre: #rememberthemartyrs filmmakers and the representation of the brutal massacre in the cinema

On April 13, 1919 it was Baisakhi. But no one would remember it that way. The date has gone down in history, marking one of the most brutal massacres in the world. the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre , in the collective conscience, it is one of the darkest moments in recorded history that finally ignited the spark of the Indian freedom movement.

On the dreaded day, British troops, under the command of General Reginald Dyer, fired on a crowd gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar for the annual Baisakhi celebration and also to peacefully protest the deportation of two national leaders. More than a thousand people are said to have lost their lives. For years, art in all its forms, written, painted, and shot, has paid tribute to horrific mass murder.

Movies like Jallian Wala Bagh (1977), by Balraj Tah, Gandhi by Richard Attenborough (1982), Rajkumar Santoshi The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra ’S Rang De Basanti (2006), Deepa Mehta's S Midnight's S Children (2012), Anshai Lal's S Phillauri (2017) have depicted the incident sensitively on celluloid.

 Manoj Kumar  in Shaheed

Bombay Times spoke to filmmakers who have touched on the subject in their works. Eighty-two-year-old actor and director Manoj Kumar , who was investigating the life of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, in the late 1950s, told us: “We only remember the massacre of April 13 of each year. For the rest of the year, we don't talk about it. Unfortunately, a generation of Indians has learned nothing from the incident. People lost their lives, but pain united the country in its battle for freedom. Those days, when I was researching the life of the revolutionary and freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, I reviewed many newspaper clippings, articles that I accessed with much effort. It pained me to read what had happened at the Jallianwala Bagh. It still moistens my eyes ... yeh azaadi sasti nahi hai, aur yeh baat koi nahi samajhta.

 Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra 's  Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti was one of filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s most prominent films, which was woven beautifully, drawing parallels between Shaheed Bhagat Singh ’S fight for freedom and the current generation’ S fight to be set free from the establishment ’S corrupt policies. Talking about it, Rakeysh said, “There was a scene in RDB where the 12 year old Bhagat Singh goes to Jallianwala Baug the day after the massacre and fills a bottle with blood soaked earth. This had actually happened. I went to Jallianwala Baug and sought to channel rebellion within myself - the anger that would serve as rocket fuel for Rang De Basanti. Standing at the site, I played the incidents of the unholy massacre in my mind’s eye. The bullet marks were still on the walls. Jallianwala Baug massacre was one of the darkest days in the history of pre-independence India. On Baisakhi, many villagers had gathered there peacefully. Many of them probably weren’t aware that the Rowlatt Act had just forbidden public gatherings. General Reginald Dyer proceeded there with Gurkha, Baluchi, Rajput troops, blocking the main entrance after them! The troops took up position on a raised bank and fired 1650 rounds on the crowd. The sheer brutality of the act, the targeted firing at peaceful civilians, and the guiltless justifications offered by Dyer were condemnable. Reel was going to imitate the reality. The Jalianwalla Bagh massacre is a key moment in RDB that changes the mindsets of the youth today, and later in the story, it becomes a metaphor for today ’S times where the establishment massacres its own youth. The defense minister replaces General Dyer and orders to shoot our own soldier - in a dream sequence - to signify the 2000 crore worth of defense scandal for buying faulty and inferior parts for MIG 21 fighter planes, due to which they were crashing, resulting in the deaths of air warriors and even innocent civilians. ”

Ajay Devgn in The Legend of Bhagat Singh

Rajkumar Santoshi, who directed The Legend of Bhagat Singh with Ajay Devgn, recalled recreating the Jallianwala Baug massacre on a set in Pune. The filmmaker had researched the subject thoroughly between 1998-1999 and his unit had become emotional while shooting the sequence in the early 2000s. He said, “The incident had ignited the fire in Shaheed Bhagat Singh to fight for the country's freedom. While researching for The Legend of Bhagat Singh, I visited the Jallianwala Baug and I was disturbed to see the walls, the narrow lane leading up to the baug, the well, and the photos of the ground shot back in the day. This film will be the closest to my heart. It was emotionally disturbing to recreate the massacre for the film. Imagining the sequence or narrating it to the crew was so difficult. ”

 Vicky Kaushal  in Udham Singh's biopic

Shoojit Sircar You have recently wrapped work on Udham Singh’s biopic, in which Vicky Kaushal plays the title role. The freedom fighter is widely remembered for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab, on 13 March 1940, in London. The assassination was the revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre for which O’Dwyer was responsible. Talking about it, the writer-director told BT, “Jallianwala Baug is too emotional an incident and the experience of filming it was emotional, too. It’s one of the most horrific massacres in history. O'Dwyer was unofficially responsible for the act. It was a well-planned execution. I have lived with this incident and the history around it for 23 years. It makes me emotional, but as a filmmaker one has to ruthlessly detach oneself while narrating a story. ”

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