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The Black Prince: Awakening about Sikh identity [Op-Ed]

April 9, 2018 | By

by: Surinderpal Singh Sarao

The Black Prince movie is being appreciated by rhe Punjabis, particularly Sikhs more for its multi-layered content than its artistic competence. It unfurls some uncomfortable questions, primarily about the Sikh identity along with other issues of forced migration and a lost kingdom. An agonic tale of the last Sikh king of Punjab, Duleep Singh seems to be highlighting the chilling account of events and setbacks the Sikh community had been pushed through.

The Black Prince depicts the tragic story of Maharaja Duleep Singh

This is an old story with strong contemporary undertones. In the new and challenging world order, like all badly shaken up minorities, the Sikhs too are highly concerned and defensive about their identity. They are global citizens with a set of vibrant loyalties. Their ethnicity, religion and culture proponent for a liberal world order equipped with justice, equality and peace. The Sikh ideology, one of the key ingredients of their unique identity, strictly forbids them from deviating it under any circumstances. So on, the Sikh sentiments run high on seeing the trauma of Duleep Singh who was robbed of his Sikh identity at the tender age of five.

The never dying desire for the Sikh Kingdom or Khalsa Raj has been flowing in the veins of the Sikh masses since ages as they sing it in their daily payers to the god also. The Sikhs living in India and abroad often get swept away by the glorious legacy of Khalsa Raj once established by the great Sikh warrior Maharaja Ranjit Singh and keep dreaming to reclaim it by the means deemed appropriate to them in this new world. In this movie, the agony of Duleep Singh who was shown struggling to reclaim his lost kingdom epitomizes the unceasing pain of the Sikh community for their bygone Khalsa raj.

Brutally uprooted and separated from his mother, faith and kingdom at a very early age, Duleep Singh was a victim of exile/forced migration that compelled him to live among the strangers in an alien country. This too turns out to be an important theme in the movie as we find a man of royal lineage driven to live a miserable life in a distant land. Even today, there are many Punjabis and Sikhs who have been helplessly going through the same horrific experience but for different reasons. Every person who embarks on a journey to resettle in a foreign land is a victim of the forced migration in one way or the other. The reasons behind this self-inflicted human tragedy can be many, from economic instability, marriage, civil war, political asylum, mass exodus to career opportunities. The forced migration is a global phenomenon that has victimized people globally.

The Black Prince movie is not only a period film which introduces us to the prince of a bygone era and tells about his futile attempts to reclaim his lost kingdom before dying an untold death. It also reignites the passions for the issues that are still very close to the hearts of Punjabis, especially the Sikh Community.

  • Author is a senior journalist.



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