Review: Sarabha Cry for Freedom

by Imtiaz Popat 

Sababha is a Punjabi/Hindi bio pic of Sheheed Kartar Singh Sarabha (Japtej Singh) who was an Indian revolutionary in the of Ghadar movement in California who inspired the activism of Sheheed Bhagat Singh.

This film by Indo-American filmmaker Kavi Raz tracing the journey of Sarabha from India to the US, highlighting circumstances that led to his conversion as a freedom fighter. The detailing of the film right from the sepia colour treatment to the clothing of people from those times spanning across three continents as the story pans across India, North America, and back to India; and the dialects ranging from Irish, Indian, American Indian, to British, lends to the authenticity of the film.  

Raz also made another historic film, The Black Prince in 2017 staring popular Punjabi sufi singer Satinder Sartaaj about the last king of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh who ascended to the throne at the age of 5 but was exiled to England during the British occupation.  

Japtej’s portrayal of the protagonist Sarabha is compelling projecting the raw courage of a young man overawed by emotions as he confronts racism in California as migrant labourer before he could start his study of aviation. Supporting him to further the narrative are crucial characters of Ghadar played by Mukul Dev (Harnam Singh Tundilat), Jasbir Jassi, Jaspinder Cheema (who plays Gulab Kaur), Sumend Wankhade (Vishnu Ganesh Pingle) and Mahabir Bhullar who plays Sarabha’s grandfather.

Director Kavi Raz too has a sizeable role for himself in the film as he portrays Sohan Singh Bhakna, and also acts as the narrator voicing the collective conscience of freedom struggle that wasn’t just restricted to freedom fighters but also encompassed their families.

Raz has done an incredible job of depicting with great detail and important part of history which included the early Indian migrants to America and their freedom struggle which led to the liberation of India from British rule.