We’d like to believe we’re not a generation that’s seen war or its aftermath. That we’re the generation that grew up in a quiet country that only recently, and very slowly, went rabid. A genocide here, a stoning there, and before our very eyes, our country suddenly turned into a fundamentalist one. But that isn’t entirely true. The truth is, it’s because we’ve been in a state of war with each other that Pakistan came to be. We’ve been fighting amongst ourselves so long now that even seventy years after we ended up tearing the nation three ways, we still continue to fight.
The thing about wars, especially insidious wars like the one that’s been raging between India and Pakistan, is that the poor, the unsuspecting, and most importantly, the innocent, pay the price. They end up becoming the nameless, oftentimes blameless, victims in a war that isn’t theirs to begin with.
One such victim was Sarabjit Singh, a farmer whose single biggest mistake seems to have been that his village is located on the Indo-Pak border. One drunken night he strayed across the border into Pakistan, got arrested, was tried for espionage and terrorism, and sentenced to death. After numerous pleas, his death sentence was commuted to a life sentence. Sarabjit spent 22 years in a Pakistani prison and died at the hands of fellow inmates in 2013.
The reason we’ve all heard of Sarabjit’s plight is because his sister, Dalbir Kaur, tried her hardest to get him back home. The truth is, hundreds of Sarabjits rot in prisons in India and in Pakistan and eventually vanish without a trace.
They’re making a movie about Sarabjit’s life. Directed by Omung Kumar, it’s called ‘Sarbjit’ and is slated to release on May 20, 2016. Randeep Hooda plays the main character. He lost 18 kilos to portray the long-incarcerated Sarabjit. Aishwarya Rai plays Dalbir Kaur, the sister who fought a long, hard battle for her brother’s life and his return to safety.
Dalbir may have failed, but maybe, just maybe, her story might change the way things are. Maybe we’ll finally start talking about the stuff that matters. Maybe this movie will spark a debate so loud that both governments will have to listen, and no more Sarabjits will have to spend their lives in prison only because they happen to live where the war is being waged.
They say hope springs eternal. Then here’s hoping things get better. Here’s hoping for a better world!