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New Indian Film commemorates the untold story of the role of Sikhs in WWI

As the country celebrates the Centenary of the end of conflict of World War I, a remarkable new film honours the involvement of Sikh soldiers in the British Army. Sajjan Singh Rangroot, which releases nationwide on 23rd March, is inspired by the story of the Lahore Regiment of the British Indian Army, follows the regiment and the challenges it faces through the eyes of soldier Sajjan Singh Rangroot.

The Punjabi movie (with English subtitles), starring Diljit Dosanjh in the lead role, traces the arduous journey of the Indian British Army’s Lahore Regiment as it takes on German forces during the war. The film highlights themes of alienation, discrimination and loss whilst also celebrating the bravery of Indian soldiers who put their lives on the line for their colonisers.

Whilst Sajjan Singh Rangroot, follows the tumultuous journey of one soldier in war, the soldiers’ story highlights a number of facts that remain unknown to many:

·       The Indian Army contributed a large number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war in World War I.

·       Over one million Indian troops served overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total at least 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war.

·       In World War I the Indian Army fought against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front.

British actor Darren Tassell, who plays Sergeant Mark Campbell, a battle-hardened soldier who trains the British and Indian troops and leads them into each battle. He says of his experience on the film,“During my time on Rangroot, I learned so much about the Sikh culture and about the story of the Indian troops joining the British troops to help us during WWI & WWII. I had never heard such things before and it was a real eye opener for me. It also seemed that the story of the British and Sikh solders has never been told, therefore it is of upmost importance that we tell the story as accurately as possible and do these brave men the justice they deserve.”

The period drama, which was directed by leading Punjabi film director, Pankaj Batra, is based on the experiences of Sikh regiments on the front lines of the war, and was shot on location in Brentwood in Essex as well as in India. For Batra, the story has huge significance in the cultural history and impact of the Sikh community and needed to be told. “2018 marks a hundred years of the end of conflict and much has been done to commemorate the brave men and women that played a role in this horrific war. However, so very few people both in England and in India know what an important role the Sikhs played in the British Army and I believe it is a story that must be told, not only as an acknowledgement but to ensure that the story lives on through the younger generations of Sikhs.”

Sajjan Singh Rangroot also stars newcomer Sunanda Sharma alongside Yograj SinghJagjeet SandhuDheeraj Kumar and Jarnail Singh in key roles alongside a British contingent that includes Peter IrvingDarren Tassell and Caroline Wilde.

Sajjan Singh Rangroot is produced by Jay Sahani and Bobby Bajaj of Vivid Art House and with music by Jatinder Shah.

The film is distributed Worldwide by Omjee Group and Grand Showbiz Entertainment.

The film is out in the UK on March 23rd 2018.

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