Daily Recco, December 16: Remembering the heroes of 1971

1971 is a film that pays a fitting tribute to the unsung soldiers languishing in the enemy's prisons - the prisoners of war.

 |  2-minute read |   16-12-2020
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On the day when India celebrates Vijay Diwas to mark its victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, it is also the day to remember with gratitude the soldiers of the Indian Army who stayed on in Pakistan, on the other side of the border, as prisoners of war (PoW).

One such Bollywood film that aptly portrayed the trauma was 1971, directed by Amrit Sagar and released in 2007. The film stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ravi Kishan, Deepak Dobriyal, Manav Kaul, Kumud Mishra and Gyan Prakash in the lead roles.

The story is set six years post the 1971 war has been won, and revolves around the prisoners of war in Pakistan who want to escape to India from a PoW camp in Chaklala, about 200 kilometres from the Indian border. Initially the senior among them, Col Puri (played by Gyan Prakash) rejects the idea under the hope that perhaps they will finally be repatriated. He also insists that a failed attempt to escape means that all of them will be killed — too big a risk. Soon enough, the PoWs are informed by the Pakistani authorities that they will indeed be repatriated.

It is not too long before the team realises that they are being lied to. A stolen newspaper article confirms that Pakistan has been playing games all along and never intended the repatriation. Eventually, the men make a plan to escape and the story is about their attempts and the tragedy that follows.

Interestingly, the film tanked at the box office when it was released. It was director Amrit Sagar’s (the grandson of filmmaker Ramanand Sagar) debut film and consequently, his career was a question mark. Eventually, it won the National Award for the Best Feature Film In Hindi in 2009, yet was considered a commercial failure.

However, thanks to the lockdown this year, netizens started sharing the YouTube link to the film by March 26, and it was a matter of days before the film got a million views. And in a matter of months, it became millions (in plural) of views (over 27 million views as of date).  We doubt if even commercial blockbusters would get this kind of viewership online. The film is truly a digital blockbuster. 

The movie can be watched on Sagar Pictures’ official YouTube channel and is also streaming on Netflix, thanks to Manoj Bajpayee’s incessant efforts in persuading the director Amrit Sagar to put it on the platform. Watch the film today and remember with gratitude those soldiers who put you and the nation before themselves.

Also Read | India-Pakistan 1971 war: Insulting Army is wrong

Writer

Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

Assistant Editor, DailyO

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