Haqeeqat (1964)


Introduction

Haqeeqat (lit. Reality) is a 1964 Indian Hindi-language war-drama directed and produced by Chetan Anand.

The film is based on the events of the 1962 Sino-Indian War about a small platoon of soldiers in Ladakh pitched against a much larger adversary.

Outline

Set against the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the film’s main plot concerns a small platoon of Indian soldiers in the hilly terrain of Ladakh. Captain Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) is a keen young soldier who is in-charge of his platoon in Ladakh. On a visit to Kashmir and Ladakh Brigadier Singh (Jayant), receives news of creeping encroachment by Chinese troops along the border and orders Major Ranjit Singh (Balraj Sahni) to send his officers to secure the posts. Thus begins the struggle of the soldiers, who await further instructions while facing a wily adversary.

The region is disputed, with China claiming it as their own. The Indian soldiers have orders not to fire first and as a result the Chinese soldiers manage to effectively surround them and open fire first. Outnumbered and out-positioned, the Indian soldiers try retreating but the weather is against them. Captain Bahadur Singh makes all efforts to ensure his soldiers retreat safely however dies in the process. Soon after his soldiers are killed as well. As a parallel mini-story, before his death, Captain Bahadur Singh falls in love with a Ladakhi girl, Angmo (Priya Rajvansh), while posted in the region. Bahadur Singh also takes Angmo’s brother Sonam under his wing as the boy dreams of becoming a soldier one day.

Cast

  • Balraj Sahni as Major Ranjit Singh.
  • Dharmendra as Captain Bahadur Singh.
  • Priya Rajvansh as Angmo (debut).
  • Sanjay Khan as Indian Soldier.
  • Vijay Anand as Major Pratap Singh.
  • Sheikh Mukhtar as Commanding Officer.
  • Sudhir as Ram Singh.
  • In minor roles Indrani Mukherjee and Achala Sachdev.
  • Levi Aharon Aharoni (Negoker), brother of Priya Rajwansh (the boy in the film).

Production

The film was made with government and army assistance. Parts of the film were shot on location in Ladakh, thus becoming the first Bollywood film to be shot there. The “left-leaning” artists, belonging to Indian People’s Theatre Association, did not charge any money for their work on the film. This included director Chetan Anand, actor Balraj Sahni, lyricist Kaifi Azmi and actress Shaukat Azmi. The colour version, converted by Chetan Anand’s son Ketan Anand, was released in 2012. The conversion, undertaken by an Indo-Australian collaboration (Q Lab of India and Time Brush Films of Australia), was a first. The film duration was also edited down.

Themes and Influences

The film is based on the 1962 Sino-Indian War, a war that started out as a cartographic battle fought over ownership of territory. The film is constructed around the battle of Rezang La, a battle which was considered the only part of the war in which India came out on top. Out of the 120 Indian soldiers who fought in Rezang La, 114 were killed. It is said that 1300 Chinese soldiers were also killed. While Major Shaitan Singh led Ahir Company of 13 Kumaon, Brigadier Tapishwar Narain Raina was in-charge of the brigade in Chushul which included 13 Kumaon. Brigadier TN Raina was awarded a Maha Vir Chakra and went on to become India’s ninth Chief of the Army Staff in 1975; unlike the fate of many other generals of the 1962 war who “faded away in ignominy and disgrace”. The Sino-Indian war is a story of Indian soldiers being treated as “sacrificial lambs”, while a nation celebrated Diwali and a government was distracted with other foreign relations in Africa and South Korea.

Gita Vishawnath writes that film has scenes which “represent the active male hero and the passive female collaborator reinforce the gendered narratives of war”. Scenes including the portrayal of a “nationalist mother” who must produce sons for the battlefield and sisters-in-laws who are angry with their brother “because they do not want another woman in the family to suffer from long years of separation”. In the film, Angmo (Priya Rajvansh) is raped by an enemy soldier, however she goes on to kill a number of enemy soldiers, thus “avenging the violation of her body”, her territory, before dying. Seen as a possession of man, the film shows her lying beside her lover Bahadur Singh, a win for love. Despite the “national shame” surrounding losing a war, such scenes helped cover the loss of territory to China, just as Angmo had been forced on by the enemy. To be a patriotic soldier, Brigadier Singh must be ready to put his son in harms way. By showing that Brigadier Singh (Jayant) and Captain Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) are father-son duo, the film wades through the family versus nation dilemma, and shows contradictions of serving both family and nation. The film tries to show a “moral victory for India”.

Trivia

  • The film was constructed around the battle of Rezang La in Ladakh and showcases a fictionalised version of the last stand of Ahir Company, 13 Kumaon led by Major Shaitan Singh.
  • However the film is not only a representation of war, but a dramatic retelling of the impact war has on the common soldier.
  • Chetan Anand dedicated the film to Jawaharlal Nehru and the soldiers in Ladakh.
  • The film is widely considered one of India’s greatest black and white war-films.
  • Haqeeqat won the National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film in 1965.
  • In 2012, the colour version of the film was released.
  • The film was screened retrospective on 12 August 2016 at the Independence Day Film Festival jointly presented by the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and Ministry of Defence, commemorating the 70th Indian Independence Day.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Chetan Anand.
  • Producer(s):
    • Chetan Anand.
  • Writer(s):
    • Chetan Anand.
  • Music:
    • Madan Mohan.
  • Cinematography:
    • Sadanand … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • M.D. Jadhav Rao.
  • Production:
    • Himalaya Films.
  • Distributor(s):
  • Release Date: 1964.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 184 minutes.
  • Country: India.
  • Language: Hindi.

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