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Posted at: Sep 15, 2018, 12:43 AM; last updated: Sep 15, 2018, 12:43 AM (IST)

‘I focus on the core facts’

Filmmaker Kavi Raz, whose film Sarabha—Cry for Freedom is based on the Ghadar movement, opines that Punjabi cinema has still not become the voice of its people

Gurnaaz Kaur

In history, this time again, he finds his muse. British writer-actor-director Kavi Raz, who narrated the story of the last king of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of the mighty Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in his historical drama The Black Prince, will bring to life the Ghadar Movement in his upcoming film Sarabha — Cry for Freedom. The film will focus on the emergence of the Ghadar (Revolt) Movement in America and its connection to the sprouting of independence movement in India.

Interesting story

“This subject has been close to my heart for many years. I first got introduced to the Ghadar Movement and the sacrifices of those brave men and women who gave it their all for our freedom, when I first moved to America at a very young age. While working as a labourer in the peach orchards of California for a gentleman who had come to American shores in 1913, and was an active participant in the movement, my introduction to this great epic story began. He was elderly but had a very vivid recollection of the events and characters of this massive movement. I heard first-hand stories from him,” says Raz.

It is not just a mere subject for a story, there is enough research that Raz has done to back his narration. “Couple of years later, during a chance visit to a friends at a house in Richmond, California, I came across a lot of literature, photos and artefacts from the movement days. I also found the printing press used by Sarabha. All this was sitting in the basement of that house. When I entered the entertainment industry in Hollywood, I promised myself that one day I will make a film on this. Here I am, many years later, on a journey to fulfil that promise.”

Simple take

The founder and artistic director of the Wandering Players’ Theatre Company and KR Films, Raz is constantly striving to evolve as a good and engaging storyteller. He adds, “This film does not depend on any special effects or fancy camera moves. It is a simply moving allegorical telling that needs to be painted with strokes of subtle nuances and emotionally crafted frames.”

Staying true to the story is important, but there are elements of fiction that are added to make it a feature film. The treatment that Raz then adopts is that of precision in facts and clarity in thought. “Keeping a balance between truth and fiction is always a bit tricky. Truth does not always make good cinema. Events have to be embellished, characters merged and heightened in their reality, so the audience does not get confused and stays engaged. I focus on core facts of the story though.”

Punjabi turf

As for Punjabi cinema, the filmmaker says, “Punjabi cinema is in a period where it is still trying to establish its true identity. I feel any cinema that appeals to a certain segment of society or nation should be the voice of its people. Punjabi cinema has not yet become that voice. It’s not really telling our stories.”


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