Gadar : Ek Prem Katha, one of the iconic films in Indian cinema, completes 19 years since its release this month that year. The film starring Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel and Amrish Puri tells the story of a truck driver, Tara Singh, who falls in love with a Muslim girl, Sakina. Their romance is disrupted by the Hindu-Muslim riots during the partition era. He fights for his love in an epic saga that spans across both countries India and Pakistan. However, this film was loosely inspired by the real-life story of a man named Boota Singh.
Watch an iconic scene from Gadar Ek Prem Katha here.
Boota Singh or Buta Singh as he was also knows as was a Sikh ex-soldier of the British Army who served at the Burma front, under the command of Lord Mountbatten, during World War II. He fell in love with Zainab, a Muslim girl he rescued during the Hindu Muslim riots.
Zainab was deported for being a Muslim and sent to Pakistan. Boota is said to have converted to Islam and illegally entered Pakistan to win back Zainab. However, the real story of Boota Singh has a tragic ending. Zainab refused to accept Boota as her husband because of family pressure. A heartbroken Boota jumped in front of an oncoming train and committed suicide.
Boota Singh wished to be buried in Zainab’s village of Nurpur, but her family would not allow it. He was buried at Miani Sahib, where his grave became a shrine for young lovers. He was called Shaheed-e-Mohabbat. His followers wanted to solidify his mud grave and construct a brick shrine around it, but the Muslims didn’t want to see the glorification of a Sikh.
Apart from Gadar, the love story of Singh’s life is widely adapted in films and books on both sides of the border. Ishrat Rahmani wrote a novel, Muhabbat, based on the story. A Punjabi film Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh (1999) is entirely based on the story. The story also influenced many other films including a 2007 Canadian film, Partition, and the 2004 Bollywood film Veer Zaara.
Check out other iconic films that released This Month That Year in June.