A documentary film on this year's Ashok Chakra awardee Hangappan Dada has taken the internet by storm with over eight lakh views within three days of its release, a tribute to the valiant soldier who killed three infiltrators single-handedly in Jammu and Kashmir before being martyred.
One of the makers of the 12-minute film --Warriors of India-- is 27-year-old Somesh Saha could closely relate to the supreme sacrifice made by the soldier from Arunachal Pradesh as his father also belongs to Assam Regiment like Dada.
"My father, who happens to be the Colonel of Assam Regiment, was tensed over the loss of a soldier. An ordinary Indian would not understand this, but being the son of an Army officer, I have always been inspired by stories of soldiers. They have been a part of my upbringing," says the young filmmaker.
"I was not aware of the huge response but I wanted the valour of Havaldar Dada to go into the annals of history and these days history is internet. I talked to my two other friends and the result is extremely wonderful. The comment of one soldier, 'the film made me cry and smile at the same time', is etched on my mind and will remain my most treasured memory," says Somesh, who is a jingle expert in advertisement industry.
The other two -- Soumil Shetty, 27, and Rohan Sharma, 29 -- were more than willing to join Saha in the venture. "I knew it was a story waiting to be told. The first thing we requested the Army was to allow us meet Havaldar Dada's comrades. After meeting them, we felt that his story needs to be told by those who were actually a part of Dada's life," Saha says.
"Dada's presence was an inspiration for all those who were associated with him including his colleagues, friends and family. He was a hero since birth. As a kid he used to be the first one to accpet a challenge. His honesty made a huge impact on those around him. This was our motivation to make the film," he says.
Along with writer-director Shetty, and Sharma, who works with a production house, Saha went to Dada's native village Borduria in Arunachal Pradesh.
"We travelled from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. We lived for a number of days with the soldiers who fought with him in the operation so that we could understand their feelings on a whole range of issues. It surely was a lifetime experience," Saha recalled. He said he wished to travel once again to Arunachal Pradesh to meet the six-year-old son of Dada.Shetty, who took time off his routine job to work on the
real script, said his aim was not to showcase Dada only as a soldier but someone who belonged to a family whose ties extended beyond the bond of blood.
"When we reached out to all the lives he had touched, the enormousness of his contribution came to fore. All we did was to showcase it as sincerely as possible," Shetty says.
Sharma, who is a post-production and animation man, recalls that when he read the citation of Havaldar Dada, this year's recipient of the highest peacetime gallantry award, his mind was flooded with many questions.
"For once, I wanted to experience what goes behind making of such a warrior. We were motivated to know more about the man, his upbringing, how he imbibed the rare daredevilry... the reaction of his family on getting the news of his martyrdom....And the motivation which makes a man become so fearless to serve a national cause selflessly..," says Sharma.
Sharma, whose father is an Army veteran, says, "We were inspired to pay a befitting tribute to Dada and his family and the region to which he belonged. I saw it as a golden opportunity to pay tribute to the brave soldier as I could relate with the army atmosphere so well owing to my background. I always regret to have missed the opportunity of following in the footsteps of my father," says Sharma.
On the number of hits on social media and comments, all the three said that they were indebted to the nation and appreciated the response.
"The response has been immense. It is an encouragement for us to make many more films on warriors of India," says Saha.