Born on July 19, 1827 in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, Mangal Pandey was a sepoy of the British East India Company in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry regiment. He is known for kicking off the first war of India’s freedom struggle against the British regime in 1857. He attacked the British officers in North Kolkata’s Barrackpore on March 29, 1857. The British government termed him as a traitor and rebel but he was not less than a ‘hero’ for lakhs of Indians who were struggling to get independence. However, he was detained and hanged by the Britishers on April 8, 1857.
Pandey is known for his bravery and never-die-attitude and regarded as the ‘hero’ of modern India. Looking at his contribution towards the freedom struggle of the country, the government of India issued a postal stamp in his honour on October 5, 1984. Besides this, the government also commemorated him by naming a park after his name. The park ‘Shaheed Mangal Pandey Maha Udyan’ where he attacked the British officers and was hanged was named after him.
The film industry also couldn’t neglect Pandey’s contribution towards India’s freedom struggle. A movie directed by Ketan Mehta, ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ was released on August 12, 2005 in order to commemorate him. The role of Mangal Pandey was played by the renowned actor Aamir Khan. Besides Aamir, other starcast of the movie included Rani Mukherji, Amisha Patel and Toby Stephens. The stage play, ‘The Roti Rebellion’ was also made on his life in June 2005. Organised by a theatre group ‘Sparsh’ at ‘The Moving Theatre’ at the Andhra Saraswat Parishad in Hyderabad, the play was written and directed by Supriya Karunakaran.