Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001)






Director:     .

Starring:     Sunny Deol (Tara Singh), Ameesha Patel (Sakeena), Amrish Puri (Ashraf Ali), Lillete Dubey (Shabana), Vivek Shaq (Darmiyaan Singh), Utkarsh Sharma (Charanjeet), Suresh Oberoi (Taya), Madhu Malti (Tayee), Tony Mirrcandani (Gurdeep), Mushtaq Khan (Gul Khan).

a Sikh-Muslim love story set during the 1947 partition  (Hindi and Panjabi only)


Spoiler Warning:

"2nd June 1947, was that date in the History of Hindustan when it was decided that an agreement, would form the basis of our independence. At the Viceroy House, Congress, Muslim League and Lord Mountbatten signed a bond, which divided Hindustan into two parts The other part became Pakistan. The agreement stated a condition the whole population will not be transferred. In other words if a Muslim wanted to stay in Pakistan, and a Hindu wanted to stay in Hindustan, they would be allowed to do so. But this did not happen".

16 September 1947. Pipla Distt. Miya Wall (West Punjab), now Pakistan. An announcement is made over a loud speaker: "All the Hindustanis of this area are being informed that today evening from Pipla Station, a special train will for Hindustan. All are requested to take only what is necessary, and leave the rest behind. So that later on it will be easier to sort out.

A woman comments to her husband: "Iíve said so often, that we should go to Amritsar. Even Khaki is saying so. But you just donít listen to anyone." The husband replies: "How did I know, that the Pakistan government would betray us? It was decided that the Hindus living in Pakistan, I mean the Sikhs, could stay back."

The husband gives his two daughters poison, saying only that they must not let any Muslim defame their dignity. The son comes in and says that Kaka is not here, but his second son Gulkhan is here. The son then says he wonít let father leave here.

Father says they must go. There is an exodus out of Pakistan. Lots of Hindus families are uprooted. The train at Pipla Station, had eight bogies, but there were ten thousand passengers.

And now the passengers are being attacked by men with machetes and other weapons such as swords. A man shouts out to the attackers: "Kill the aged and children. Pick up the Hindus. Do not leave anyone."

The train starts to move out. The killers jump onto the train and start killing everyone aboard.

"In this manner, dead bodies of the Hindus and Sikhs from the different parts of Pakistan, were sent to Hindustan." Lots of people are at the station when the train pulls in. Plainly visible to all are the dead bodies everywhere on the train and on top of the train.

Hindus and Sikhs in Indian burn the Muslims.

Mr. Ashraf Ali Khan, a businessman, demands that the government take him to the Delhi airport. A man explains to him that if he goes by road to Delhi, it will mean certain death for him. He says they can go from Amritsar to Lahore, a distance of 30 to 40 miles.

The brother of the businessman, Aslam cries to Mr. Ashraf that the Hindu and Sikh mobs set fire to the mansion and murdered the entire family there. And they might be coming for their place any time now. Ashraf shouts to close the gate firmly and put on the chain.

A fight almost breaks out between the family and the Indian government officials. One of the Indians keeps his cool and stops the beginning of hostilities. He tells the businessman that there are only two hours left before the special train is leaving from Amritsar for Lahore.

So the family start grabbing their things to get to the special train, but now people are throwing rocks that burst through the mansionís windows. The calmer Indian tells the businessman that they must escape through the back way.

Some from the mob go over the walls. Finally, the gate breaks open from the force of the mob. They push past the security staff. The family just barely gets away on a bus. And the train to Lahore is now ready to leave. The family is swept up in a sea of refugees trying to get onto the train.

And now an armed mob is attacking the Muslims. It looks like a man is going to strike the daughter of Ashraf, but is taken by her beauty and just stands staring at her. He then sees she has a snow globe in her hand, a souvenir perhaps. The train starts pulling out and the businessmanís family is just getting on the train. Not everyone can make it on the train and some of the family is left behind. The daughter of Ashraf is knocked down and run over by the panicking people.

On the railway platform there are lots of dead bodies. But the young lady of the Pakistani family survives. She was buried under other bodies and had to push her way out. She has a lot of blood on her head. She crawls along the platform.

The man who was so taken by the daughter of Ashraf goes looking for her. He finds the womanís snow globe laying on the platform and picks it up.

The young woman holds her head under a flowing water faucet to clean her hair and face. The killers come back through the area looking for any survivors that they can kill. They young woman is spotted and she starts running away from her pursuers.

She runs right inti the man who spared her. She says Tara, save me! The men arrive and Tara has to hit a few of them to save the woman. Someone helps Tara by saying that this man is Tara Singh of the Transport company. Nevertheless, some of the men still want to kill the Muslim woman. He takes the blood from his wounded hand and puts a smudge on the womanís forehead while saying: "She is Muslim. Well now she has become a Sikh." He takes the woman and walks away.

Tara puts the young woman, Sakeena, in his truck and drives away. The woman is silent. Tara thinks about the happier past.

Flashback. He drives his truck to a place where he can meet in the canteen with the British Major. His assistant tells him that in the canteen is the "manager" and not the "major". Tara tells his brother Darban Singh that Darban is the one who gets things down from the truck.

He enters the canteen and meets a man coming out. Tara tells the fellow to go help unload the truck. A group of young women approach him. One asks Tara if he has her things for her? Yes., he does. He hands out envelopes to the young women. The envelopes contain lipstick, bangles and vermilion.

The girls tease him about going to see a romantic movie. He tells the young ladies that they are always praising him, but they never invited him to their annual program. But now the women say that they will have Tara sing for them at their program. They tell him the time and place to meet with them for information on the program.

Some of the girls tell Sakeena that she should become a music teacher. The girls say that they were only joking around and Sakeena should let her sense of humor come out more. The girls are playing a joke on Tara. Sakeena will play the part of their hard of hearing music teacher.

Tara arrives and goes to speak to the teacher. Sakeena is wearing a disguise of sorts and sheís pretending she doesnít hear Tara speaking to her. And when she does decide to hear him, she misunderstands everything Tara is saying.

Tara tries to sing, but heís probably too rattled to sing well. Sakeena tells him to do anything he wants to do, but donít ever sing publicly. Now all the women leave the room.

Tara goes over to the womenís dorms and starts serenading the music teacher. The women come out to listen to the song. When Tara finishes his song, he gets a round of applause, and Sakeena says he really touched her heart with his singing. He replies by saying he would like a chance to sing at the annual program.

And now Sakeena apologizes to Tara. The girls were just joking with him. And she is not the music teacher. Sheís a student too and her name is Sakeena. Now they all leave while Tara stays. Sakeena lingers to say it was nice to meet Tara and she will talk to the principal so that Tara can take part in the program. This makes Tara very happy.

The principal says the idea is ridiculous! The man is a mere truck driver.

Sakeena practices her ballet performance for the upcoming program. Tara comes to watch. Tara looks smitten. He warns himself of the dangers of what he calls "this madness".

Sakeena notices Tara up in the balcony. After her dance he comes down and praises Sakeenaís dancing. Then Tara asks about the program. Sakeena says that the principal said that since Tara doesnít study at the college, he canít sing at the program. Tara makes up an excuse and walks away from Sakeena.

Tara does, however, go to the performance of the program. He watches as Sakeena is about to dance and sing, but now that she sees Tara in the balcony she invites him to come down and sing with her. The principal is not too pleased.

And Tara is not too sure he can carry out the performance. Sakeena encourages him to sing and once Tara starts singing, he has no problems with stage fright. The students love the performance. Even the principal starts liking the song.

When school is out, and Sakeena goes home, Tara buys her a gift of the snow globe. She takes the snow globe and puts it on the dash board of the car.

Back to the present. He takes Sakeena to his home. In the home Sakeena washes her face. She has a flashback to the dangerous situation she was in not too long ago. Tara thinks sheís worried about what he might do. He tells her: "Donít worry, you are fully safe." He gives her a towel.

In the morning another mob shows up. They want Tara to turn Sakeena over to them. Sakeena hears all this and she gets very frightened again. Tara fights off the bigots and throws them out side onto the street.

When Tara comes back to Sakeena he says he will take her to Attari station. At the station, the station master says itís the British that have ruined India. He lets Sakeena look in the lost and found for anything belonging to her or her family. She finds a box of jewelry belonging to her. She cries as she picks up her fatherís watch. Sakeena runs to throw herself in front of the oncoming train. Tara runs after her and hauls her back to safety. She says she wants to die. Sakeena says that even Tara was killing the Muslims, so why didnít Tara just kill her when he had the opportunity?

Back at home, Tara thinks about that. He says: "Challenged, human beings become mad. They are ready to die and kill. He says he watched as his parents were cremated. Sakeena is not the only one who has been effected by the religious hatred. Lots of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims have been killed.

After a lot of silence, one day Sakeena starts laughing at Taraís brother having a whistling/hiccup problem. Everyone is so moved to see her laugh, but then she bursts into crying.

Taraís aunt has arrived. She wants to see that "Muslim girl". The aunt acts like sheís going to curse out Sakeena. Sakeena drops her head down for the confrontation, and the aunt stops. Tara tells his aunt what happened to poor Sakeena. And now aunty feels sorry for the girl. She says she wants to help the girl, before they send her to the Muslim camp. Aunty says in the whole area people are cursing their family name and Tara should let go of the girl. She then gives Tara some sweets to eat and tells him to let the girl have some of the sweets too. Aunty leaves.

Tara tells Sakeena not to pay any attention to the things aunty said. Sakeena wonít take any of the sweets. Instead, she tells Tara to leave her at the Muslim camp because cause she does not wish to have harm come to Tara and his family. He says he will not take her to the camp, but he will take her to Lahore. Sakeena says Tara canít risk going into Pakistan in theses troubled times. Tara tells her not to worry about that. So Sakeena starts packing up her things. As she packs, she finds her snow globe and smiles. She snoops around a little and finds a photo of her and the rose that she once gave Tara. She reads his diary. In there he has written a love poem to her.

Tara has made all the preparations for early tomorrow of the trip to Lahore. He only asks Sakeena that when sheís in Pakistan that she think of him sometimes. She is a little shocked at the question and Tara says he had no right to ask that of her.

At night Sakeena has a hard time sleeping. In the morning Sakeena prepares the turban for Tara. He puts it on his head, but then takes it off. Sakeena asks if there is something wrong about the way she prepared the turban? No. Tara just wants to keep the turban as it is and when he thinks of Sakeena he will look at the turban she fixed just for him.

Refugees are still headed to Pakistan going one way, and other refugees are traveling to India. At one point the two columns start throwing stones at each other.

It takes days to make the trek. Sakeena cries as she treks along. Finally, she breaks down and says that she wants to be his wife. Thatís just what Tara wanted to hear. But Tara hears other things to. His uncle balls Tara out for bringing the girl back to India. Uncle even threatens to kill Tara.

Tara speaks in terms of love, and against hate, to his uncle and the man now comes to make amends with Tara.

Tara and Sakeena marry. Following the ceremony and the reception, Tara looks into the face of his lovely bride and says: "The moon which I was destined to look at, is mine today. Destiny felt sorry for us, madam."

Together they sing a song.

Now Tara and Sakeena have a young son. In the papers she finds out that her family had survived the killings. She calls her family to tell them that she is alive and doing well. Sakeena also says that she thought her family had been wiped out. The whole family is delighted at the news as her father runs to the telephone to talk to his daughter.

Sakeena and her family decide to fly to Lahore to celebrate the fact that father is now the Mayor of Lahore. Thereís a problem, however. They need more paperwork for their son. So they decide to have Sakeena go alone to Lahore, and the other two will follow when they get the paperwork approved and signed. Mom and son cry when mom has to leave by herself.

Sakeena gets in the plane where her father is waiting for her. Dad, however, is not happy when he sees that his daughter has married a Sikh.

The plane lands in Lahore. Sakeena is now driven to the Governorís mansion where she sees the rest of her family.

And now Sakeena gets a real shock. Mother tells her to forget about her husband. He is an Indian, after all. Sakeena says she canít live without her husband and son. She adds that she has seen everyone and now she has to leave. Her father tells Sakeena that she just doesnít understand his point of view on the matter. She tells dad that her husband did not force her to marry him. In fact, he was ready to risk his life to bring her to Lahore. But dad says sheís staying in Pakistan. She will have to forget about her husband and son. It will take time, he says, but she will get over them. Skeena says no, she wonít.

Father and the family celebrate his becoming the Mayor of Lahore. Sakeena does not want to celebrate the event. She has her backs packed and she tries to make an escape. Her aunt begs her not to go. She convinces Sakeena to stay by saying if she keeps her father happy, then he will in turn keep his daughter happy and she will be able to go home. So Sakeena makes an appearance at the celebration like a dutiful daughter. At the celebration, Sakeena realizes that her father is using her for his own selfish political purposes. He is going to have published a false story about how Sakeena was forced by an Indian to marry him. They will make Tara appear to be a monster.

Sakeena also hears that her father deliberately blocked the passport of her child, so that he could kidnap Sakeena and make her a celebrity in Pakistan to help her fatherís political future.

Sakeena runs out on the celebration. She lays on her bed and cries.

Later dad says he didnít clear the visa because he didnít want to see Sakeena with that "Jat". Sakeena says she made a grave mistake coming to Pakistan for the love of her father. Her father, however, can only think about what he needs and wants. He says whether she cries and screams it wonít make any difference because sheís staying in Pakistan.

She says she wonít go to India, wonít write or telephone, but one day her husband will come for her. Dad goes berserk with anger. Her brother says he will kill Tara. 

Tara tries to get the passport but the clerk says that marriages that took place during the riots are not recognized by either Pakistan or India.  These marriages are considered illegal.  Then the manager comes out to tell Tara that he was told by his superiors that Tara Singh should not be allowed to go to Pakistan.  Tara says then he will go to Pakistan without the visa. 

Tara's uncle balls him out, telling him to forget that unfaithful woman.  Tara says she has not been unfaithful.  Uncle shows an article in the Pakistani newspaper about how Sakeena was tortured and forced to have children by her Indian husband.  Tara replies that he doesn't believer what's written in the article.  He's going to Pakistan.  The little boy demands to go with his father and keeps demanding thus until Tara gets so angry that he slaps the boy to get him to stop.  Tara walks away.  The boy cries and, finally, Tara decides to take the boy.  They go off together. 

Tara is caught trying to cross the border and thrown in jail.  Later he is let out of jail and crosses into Pakistan.  Sakeena dreams of being reunited with her husband. 

Tara goes to see a friend, but the wife makes such of fuss over Tara being at their house, that Tara leaves the house.  His friend runs after Tara and begs Tara not to be upset over his wife's harsh words.  Also, the friend shows an article in the newspaper about Sakeena going to marry Salim, the son of Sarfaraj of Ismailpur. Tara reads the article, and is greatly disturbed by it. 

Sakeena knocks over trays of food for the wedding to Salim.  She cries.  She appeals to the priest to stop the wedding, but the priest says that according to their law, if both man and woman are not Muslim, their marriage is considered a sin.  Forget about the first husband.  Sakeena says she will never forget about him.  She hears Tara singing a song to her.  They lock Sakeena into a room by herself, but she uses a piece of furniture to break the glass and gets out.  She sees her husband and son from the roof of the mansion, but she cannot get to them.  She comes out and runs to her son.  She hugs him and picks him up.  Then she shows her son to her parents.  She sings about it.  Then she goes to hug her husband. 

Two men with swords try to kill Tara, but he throws them around the area.  Then he picks up one of the swords.  Father stops the fighting.  He asks Tara how dare he step foot on their soil?  Father adds that the Indians shed a lot of blood of the Pakistani community  Tara says and the Pakistanis spilled a lot of the blood of the Indian community.  He says they killed his parents, his siblings, everybody!  He calms down to say:  "But that is all over now.  Today, I have come to take my wife, the mother of my son.  I have forgotten my hatred, you also do the same."  Dad says he would if he could, but he can't.  He would like to shoot each and every Indian dead.  The groom rushes toward Tara declaring that Pakistan has taken over half of Kashmir, and one day they will take over the whole of India.  When Salim gets real close, Tara knocks him down. 

Tara says he will kill everyone at the wedding, and father grabs a sword to kill Tara.  The priest rushes in to put a stop to this.  He says this matter is better settled through discussion.  The priest tells the father to calm down because a bad temper does not let one think straight. 

A calmed down father comes into the separate room where Tara and his family are sitting down.  He says he could have Tara thrown into prison as an Indian spy in Pakistan, but he won't be that cruel to his daughter.  But Tara will have to accept two conditions.  He must become Muslim and he must live in Pakistan.  Tara and his family have a day to think about the offer. 

The next day the priest asks Tara if he accepts Islam?  Tara replies:  "I do."  Father steps forward and makes Tara say "Hail, Islam!" and then repeat it.  Tara complies but does not shout it out like the Muslims do.  So dad now wants Tart to says that he hates India.  Tara now gets angry and asks:  "Mr. Ashraf, why are you playing this political game?"  The two men argue before hundreds of people.  The people get so mad at Tara that they attack him.  He pulls up a stanchion and starts knocking down Pakistanis.  He kills one of the Pakistanis.  That stops everyone in their tracks.  Now Tara walks over to his family and starts to walk away from everyone. 

Father orders the Pakistanis to catch them.  So now the family has to run for its lives. The family manages to hijack a truck.  The authorities chase them and fire on the family.  Their boy receives a head wound.  The police throw fire bombs at the truck and set the back of the truck on fire.  And jeeps keep running in front of the truck and Tara just knocks them out of the way.  The police come to Ashraf to tells him that the truck was found in a ditch near Mirpur (which is some 400 miles away from the border).  The policeman says that Tara will not escape from Inspector Suleman.  Now Mrs. Ashraf tells her husband that she does not want to see her daughter hurt. 

Tara finds shelter with a local family.  The family, however, seems more interested in Sakeena's jewelry than helping Tara and his wife and son.  The husband rats out the family to the police.  Tara overhears the rat talking on the phone to the police and breaks the man's neck. 

Mrs. Ashraf protests to her husband about his behavior:  ". . .  when he was ready to accept Islam, why did you ask him to say silly things?" 

The police are on Tara's trail. 

Some Pakistanis, such as Gullu, want to smuggle Tara and his family over the border along with the regular drug smuggling runs.  They give the smuggler lots of money to take Tara to the border.  The friends of Tara give Tara the number of the coach of the mail train he will be traveling on.  He must be there by 2 p.m. 

Two policemen try to arrest Tara, but he gets away from them. His wife and son remain in their temporary shelter.  Other policemen chase after Tara.  The head policeman gets his head cut off by Tara and the other policemen make a hasty retreat. 

The woman harboring Sakeena now demands that she give up her wedding necklace, after having taken her earrings and bracelets.  Sakeena doesn't want to give up her necklace.  She is about to take the necklace by force, when Tara arrives and slaps the bad woman so hard that she falls unconscious. 

Later the police arrive and start beating the hell out of the man and woman who harbored the escaping family.  The greedy woman begs mercy from Mr. Ashraf.  He tells her he wants to know if his daughter stayed here or not?  The greedy one says his daughter stayed her three nights.  Now the police find Sakeena's earrings and bracelets.  Ashraf slaps the greedy woman twice across the face.  Then he finds the dropped note about catching the 2 p.m. train. 

The escaping family members are already on the train heading for India.  But the police have the train stopped.  They hide under the cotton the train is carrying.  Soldiers stick their bayonets into the cotton bales and one of the soldiers has blood on his bayonet.  They search some more among the cotton.  Tara, himself, however, is already under the train making his way to the locomotive.  He throws the engineers out of the engine and takes off.  The police on top of the train fall off as the train picks up speech.  Meanwhile, the idiots set fire to the cotton bales, not caring about what would happen to anyone still in amidst the cotton.  The train smashes jeeps off the track.  There are still some soldiers aboard the train.  Tara goes to save his family now.  He has to kill the soldiers as he goes, getting wounded himself in the fighting. 

The Pakistanis chase the train and now shoot to kill the entire family.  A helicopter is used to chase the train down.  Soldiers drop onto the top of the train from the helicopter.  A firefight breaks out between the soldiers and Tara and family.  A family friend with them is hit and falls of the train.  A lot of the soldiers are shot and killed.  Tara slits the throats of the rest of the soldiers.  A gunman in the helicopter tries to kill Tara, but Tara throws his knife into the man's chest.  The helicopter hits the side of the train and explodes.

The train has to be slowed down because of cows on the tracks.  Some more soldiers jump onto the train.  Tara beats up and then throws off the train the officer who gave the command to set the cotton bales on fire because he felt humiliated by Tara.  Tara now releases all the cars from the engine and coal carrier.  Now Ashraf is in a helicopter and he is shooting to kill the family.  One of his bullets hits his daughter.  The train stops as husband and son tends to Sakeena's wound.  The helicopter lands.  Ashraf and a soldier get out of the helicopter.  Tara grabs the shovel and goes after the two men.  He knocks out the soldier by throwing the shovel at his head.  He then head butts Ashraf and sends him flying up into the air.  He hits the ground hard, but it's mostly sand.  Tara jumps on top of the old man and hits him over and over again. 

His son comes to get him to help mother.  Ashraf recovers and comes to see what he has done. 

Sakeena is taken to the hospital.  The doctor removed the bullet but she is still unconscious.  He tells Tara to pray to God that the medicines he gave her will work.  Suddenly, Sakeena wakes up screaming.  Tara is already right there with her.  Her mother comes running over to her.  And then Ashraf comes over crying for the damage he has caused his daughter and her family.  He finally asks his son-in-law for forgiveness. 

The one relative regarded as mentally ill says:  "You are right, uncle.  The world is driven by humanity, by love.  Gandhiji has said:  'Non-violence is the greatest religion.' "


This story is about a recently formed family that is pulled apart because the wife is a Muslim and the husband is a Sikh.  The Muslim wife is kidnapped by her now Pakistani family and told to forget her husband and child.  The wife, however, will not forget her nuclear family.  She keeps resisting her father's selfish orientation.  Her husband also does not give up on getting his wife back to India.  They finally have to decide to take the wife by force from Pakistan and that's not going to be an easy task.  The love story is a nice one and it's sad to see the family separated, but it's also good to see that the wife and husband refuse to give up on being reunited again.  At times the film makes the husband appear a bit like Superman tossing around Muslims like so many toys.  Then again, it makes for some interesting fight scenes, so I won't complain about it that much. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




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