Harman Baweja Excited, Nervous As Chaar Sahibzaade Sequel—Rise Of Banda Singh Bahadur Releases Friday

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By R. Paul Dhillon

SURREY – The mega success of the animated feature Chaar Sahibzaade on the lives of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singhji has made veteran Bollywood producer-director Harry Baweja and his star son Harman Baweja a household name in the specialized animated event picture both in India and abroad, where the film collected nearly half of the total revenue for the much admired film.

“For us it is a family affair – my mother is a producer on the film, my sister looks after the visuals and works with our large tech team, I work on the script and dad does the direction so for us this really a passion project,” Harman Baweja told the LINK during a visit to our offices Wednesday afternoon.

He said when his father decided to make ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’ in 3D, two years ago, he was confident he’d break the stereotype. But the overwhelming success of the film was a pleasant surprise.

“Of course we knew that it would connect with our core audiences but it had the cross-over for a good, well made film that one needs to really have a breakout film and that was the amazing part of it and it has allowed us to proceed to the sequel and keep more than 400 animators-technicians working on the sequel, ‘Chaar Sahibzaade — Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur’,” he said.

Harry Baweja, who is in India promoting the release of the film, said the original paved the way for change the film industry badly needed.

“It was time to move beyond familiar stories and offer something different. It was time to change the perception that animation movies are meant only for kids. The prequel was widely accepted by the audience. We’ve scaled up the viewing experience with the sequel. We’ve roped in 375 animation technicians from London and India to get the desired result,” said Harry Baweja

Harman told the LINK that It’s not easy to capture the essence of a warrior like Banda Singh Bahadur on screen and just like the first film they had to dig deeper into the Sikh history archives to get the story right, which is the most important thing to do before you start the animation production.

Banda Singh Bahadur, born Lachman Dev, also known simply as Banda Bahadur in 27th October 1670 – 9 June 1716, Delhi was a Sikh military commander.

At the age of 15 he left home to become an ascetic, and was given the name “Madho Das’’.

He established a monastery at Nanded, on the bank of the river Godavari, where in September 1708 he was visited by, and became a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh who gave him the new name of Banda Singh Bahadur.

Armed with the blessing and authority of Guru Gobind Singh, he assembled a fighting force and led the struggle against the Mughal Empire

Banda Singh Bahadur abolished the zamindari system, and granted property rights to the tillers of the land. He was captured by the Mughals and tortured to death in 1716.

Ahead of the release, director Harry Baweja and music composer Rabbi Shergill drop in Chandigarh to give a prelude to what is coming up on the D-day.

“I am not a historian; my knowledge of Banda Singh Bahadur is as limited as any other person. So, I went head and researched on him, collected my facts and took it to the SGPC, and they helped me sift facts from fiction,” adds Harry Baweja, who says this screening by a Sikh body only helped him give a fair direction to how to go about making the film Chaar Sahibzaade- Rise Of Banda Singh Bahadur.

“The budget of this film has gone way beyond what I had started out with, just like the first film, for which the budget went as far as Rs 13.5 crore. On the technical front, we have used software which was used in the Hollywood film, Lord Of the Rings. At the same time, a lot of technical professional work has been done in the London studio,” he adds.

The film has seven songs in it. Music composer Rabbi Shergill has sung one track on Bulle Shah, called Kaho Kis Toh.

“Imagine when Hollywood film Braveheart spoke about a warrior hero from Scotland, everyone wanted to be like him and wear those frocks. We too, here in Punjab have a rich history, more than anyone else. And getting a chance to be part of my virsa is, of course, a nice feeling,” says the otherwise quiet looking Rabbi, who does feel that making a film with set guidelines and constraints is not easy especially when you cannot dare to break the sensitivity of the idea and of the audiences both.

Harman Baweja said film, which releases worldwide this Friday, is being distributed by Eros International and will release in more than 290 theatres overseas and between 550-600 theatres in India.

Upcoming Baweja productions will see the family work on a film on Guru Tegh Bahadur’s life, including an offshoot on Bhai Jaita Singh to be played by Harman Baweja which will be a live-action film with CGI effects.