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Courage under fire

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Ekjute’s new play, 'Paramveer Chakra', written and directed by Nadira Zaheer Babbar, is based on Rachna Bisht Rawat's book 'The Brave'. It is account of all 21 army men who won the military’s highest honour for valour – The 'Paramveer Chakra'. Babbar chanced upon the book at the airport and decided to stage a play to pay tribute to our brave soldiers.

At the opening show, she said that she is aware of films, documentaries and serials on the subject, but watching the stories on stage is a totally different experience, more so, because it leaves a lot for the audience to imagine. The set, made up of a few platforms is, therefore, simple; it serves for village homes, mountain terrains and army bunkers. Babbar has concentrated on the actors and the cast has worked with utmost sincerity.

For the book, Rawat had interviewed families and comrades in the Paramveer Chakra awardees chronicled – because most of them got the honour posthumously – to write detailed and stirring stories of the men who gave up their lives for India.

Babbar has chosen to focus on three out of the 21 brave men – Vikram Batra, Abdul Hamid and Dhan Singh Thapa – played by Devesh Kumar, Manav Pande and Ankur Parekh, respectively.

Captain Vikram Batra was young, in love with a girl called Dimple, and hoping to marry her when he got his next leave. He was killed during the Kargil war in 1999, leading a difficult operation on very inhospitable terrain.

Havildar Abdul Hamid, was the son of a tailor, who wanted to get out of his village and do something different. A friend in the army inspired him to also sign up. He died in the Indo-Pak war of 1965, surrounded by Patton tanks and going down fighting.

Major Dhan Singh Thapa of the Gorkha Rifles Regiment was captured in Ladakh by the Chinese during the Sino-Indian war of 1962. He was engaged in armed as well as hand-to-hand fighting when he was taken. His wife refused to believe he was dead, and waited for him. The story of how he managed to smuggle a message to his colleages is heart-warming. He was eventually released from the Chinese prison. After the traumatic experience, he returned to service and retired with the rank of Lieutenent Colonel.

Babbar stages the stories with a lot of energy, and many moving scenes. The play is an audience-pleaser and will travel all over the country. Our soldiers hardly ever get their due, and are just perceived as faceless men defending our borders.

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