“Close to a million people lost their lives and several million lost their homelands forever when India and Pakistan were partitioned. In the midst of the horror that Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs inflicted on each other there were also redeeming stories of the love that bound these communities together—stories we cling to, so we may retain our faith in the human spirit . Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te is one such story. It is the story of how love survived a holocaust.” — Arundhati Roy
Borders spring up from nowhere; new nations are born of a violent rupture and unprecedented blood-letting, uprooting millions of people; and, a centuries-old composite culture is silenced forever. Or so it would seem…
On the eve of the British leaving the subcontinent in 1947, Punjab was partitioned along religious lines. Thus was created a Muslim majority state of Punjab (west) in Pakistan and a Hindu /Sikh majority state of Punjab (east) in India. For the people of Punjab, it created a paradoxical situation they had never experienced before: the self became the Other. The universe of a shared way of life – Punjabiyat — was marginalised. It was replaced by perceptions of contending identities through the two nation states. For most of us this has been the narrative of Punjab– once known as the land of five waters, now a cultural region spanning the border between Pakistan and India.
However, the idea of Punjabiyat has not been totally erased. In ways seen and unseen, it continues to inhabit the universe of the average Punjabi’s everyday life, language, culture, memories and consciousness. This is the universe that the film stumbles upon in the countryside of east Punjab, in India. Following the patters of lived life, it moves fluidly and eclectically across time, mapping organic cultural continuities at the local levels. It is a universe which reaffirms the fact that cultures cannot be erased so very easily.
This is a universe marked by a rich tradition of cultural co-existence and exchange, where the boundaries between the apparently monolithic religious identities of ‘Hindu’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘Sikh’ are blurred and subverted in the most imaginative ways.
Moreover, one finds in this universe, mythologies from the past sanctifying such transgressions and reproducing themselves in the present; iconographies of Hindu gods and Sikh gurus share space with lovers, singers and wrestlers, creating a rich convergence of the sacred, the profane, and the subversive. Nothing represents this more than the Qissa Heer, a love balled exemplifying a unique Punjabi spirituality identified with love, whose multiple manifestations richly texture this landscape.
Yet, there are absences to deal with. Strewn across this cultural terrain are haunting memories which have become second skin —of violence of 1947; of separation from one’s land; of childhood friends lost forever; of anonymous graves that lie abandoned in village fields.
Accompanying this caravan of seekers and lovers are the ascetic non believers in whom a yearning for love and harmony turns into poetry against war and aggression. Such is the land of Punjab where miracles never cease to capture the imagination.
Title: Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te
Duration: 95 Minutes
Language; Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi with English Subtitles
Year : 2012
Director, Cinematography an d Producer : Ajay Bhardwaj
Editor: Arghya Basu
Sound Editing & Mixing: Asheesh Pandya
English Subtitles: Chitra Padmanabhan
Assistant Director : Arshad Amanullah
‘The Punjab Trilogy’, Screening and Discussions on 9th and 10th of March, Committee Room, SSS-I, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Sunday, February 24, 2013, 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm in UTC+05:30, Lala Lajpatrai Bhawan, Sec 15, Chandigarh.
On the 25th of January, 2013, Films Division is organizing a screening of ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’ in Mumbai on the 25th of January under the FD zone programme: ON THE BIRTH OF A NATION AND THE PARTITION OF IDENTITIES.
On the 24th of January, 2013, at TISS, Mumbai, by Adda – the weekly film club managed by the students of the School of Media and Cultural Studies.
On the 23rd of January, 2013, at India International Centre (IIC) Auditorium, 40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi 110 003.
Cinema of Resistance, Patna film Festival. Kalidas Rangalaya. 9th to 11th Dec 2012, Patna.
Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Centre, 346 Soho Road, Handsworth, Birmingham B21 9QL. 24th December, 2012. Hosted by Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) Birmingham and Sandwell Branch.
University of Leeds, The Centre for Religion and Public Life. 22nd December, 2012.
University of Wolverhampton, Centre For Transnational and Transcultural Reasearch. Friday 16 November 2012.
Goldsmiths; 14 November 2012; Richard Hoggart Building, Centre For Cultural Studies.
Tuesday 13th November 2012; Khalili Lecture Theatre, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street. Hosted by SOAS Pakistan Society.
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 6-7 November, 2012. Sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of Art History and Visual Art, and the Office of the Vice President Research and International.
Screened at British Film Institute, London, on 18th November, 2012
Premièred at Asiatica Filmmediale Festival, Rome, Oct 5th-13th, 2012
ghulamkalam.blogspot.in/2013/06/blog-post_17.html by Yadwinder Karfew in Punjabi Tribune
Shahmukhi-translation-of-the-punjabi-tribune-article/ Shahmukhi translation of Yadwinder karfew’s Article
Sanjhi Virasat Ka Doaba/ by Mihir Pandya in Kathadesh
Let’s Meet at Baba Ratan’s Mela by Asad Zaidi reviews Punjab Trilogy
Here (hi) stories shall meet by Sarika Sharma ( The Daily Post)
In-quest-of-roots/Article1-1048336.aspx#.UXY84hyzF1A.facebook by Sanjam Preet Singh in Hindustan Times
The Sunday Guardian: Rediscovering Punjabiyat at Baba Ratan’s Mela by Nidhi Gupta (January 2013)
Times of India: Recovering punjabiyat through a documentary on partition by Meenakshi Sinha (January 2013)
Let’s Meet – On Ajay Bharadwaj’s ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’ by Virinder S. Kalra in Kafila (January 2013)
Sufism and the East Punjab Dalit assertion Part III: by Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed in Daily Times (Pakistan, October 14, 2012)