By Karan // Uncategorized

When Michael Edward Palin called the Wagha Border ceremony a 'Carefully Choreographed Contempt', awed I was, not only at the audacity of one of the World’s most renowned travel documentarians third eye casual comment, but about the fact that there was something amiss in his understanding about the two Nations. On one hand, I would easily take offence at a foreigner using such vocabulary referencing my sub-continent, on the other though, how many of us Indian`s would actually feel the true significance of this ceremony ourselves? May be this is because majority of us have not lived through the Partition Struggle, may be majority of us have not felt what compulsory geographical separation from our loved ones would be and may be, majority of us live with some care-a-hoot attitude about our past. The closest you would actually come across to understanding the true aspect of this ceremony, is when u become a part of it, and fortunate I was that we revealed the first look of KYA DILLI KYA LAHORE, at exactly the same place..

Revealing the first look of ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore’ at Wagha Border felt like something out of a blockbuster film - unreal, jubilant, loud, dramatic, colourful and completed with an action sequence. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more suited venue then the Border, a symbol of peace and unity that it is for both, India and Pakistan. The experience overwhelmed me on so many levels and the support and encouragement we received from both sides of the crowd had rendered me speechless. They were exchanging joyous remarks like ‘Hind-Pak Dosti, Zindabad’ and various jokes in Punjabi that sadly I can’t recall. And the fact that it was 14th of August, Pakistan’s Independence Day, followed by India’s the very next, this very much was so relevant for one to say ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore’

Initially, I was a little apprehensive about selecting the Border as the venue, considering the enormity of the place and problems we may face with getting permissions. It was a risk but luckily it paid off; we acquired the necessary permissions within one week, instead of the usual 20, thanks largely to the Border Security Force. The only pending one that remained was the one from the Intelligence and this we received at 3 o’clock on the actual day, 14 th August, something that only added to the charm of what was already taking place. In case the permission hadn’t been granted, we had a contingency plan of launching the event at the Swarn Jayanti Gate instead which is nearly 100mtrs away from the border gates.

One of my first memories of the day was reading the sign ‘Lahore, 22 km, Attari border 1 km as we were approaching the border; and for the life of me, I can’t think of any words to describe what went through me at that moment. It was simply surreal. Then, later in the evening, we saw wedding-like celebrations happening on the Pakistan side of the border. People were celebrating their Independence Day feasting on delicious local Salan and delights like Shahi Tukda. I could’ve hopped, skipped and jumped to that side just for one bite but sadly, formalities got in the way and the team and I just watched, with our tummies rumbling. Other moments that will stay with me is when Vishwajeet Pradhan, the actor who plays a Pakistani captain in the film referred to me as Karan Johar; when he stood corrected, the clever guy reverted with ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, Kya Arora, Kya Johar.’ This slip-up had the audience and everyone else present in fits of laughter.

The extraordinary happenings of the day were followed by the mid-night march that was initiated by Kuldip Nayar 17 years back. Unfortunately, Mr Nayar couldn’t join us due to ill-health but I met him later on the way back to Delhi and narrated to him the journey and my experience.

I often get asked why I chose to do a film like Kya Dilli Kya Lahore and this happened on the launch day as well. Knowing it would, I went with an already prepared answer of what I normally say but on the day of 14th August, something else happened. I have no idea where it came from but I suddenly remembered the stories my Grandmother used to tell me of the partition time when I was child and her experience and memories of Pakistan. Like millions, my grandmother had lost everything during the partition and had crossed the border in the most atrocious conditions. In that moment, my normally prepared speech went out of the window and all I could think of and talk about was the stories I grew up with, another one of the small miracles that had ordained the day.

I would very much like to thank the authorities of Wagha Border, especially the Border Security Force for their help and support in making our dream come true. I will forever be grateful. And my gratitude to the people of India and Pakistan for their love, joyous spirit and humour they shared with us on the day. Hind-Pak Dosti, Zindabad indeed!

The aggression of the border forces with which they perform the March Past, the discipline, the demeanour and the pride, simply leaves you speechless and overwhelmed. Mr. Palin may be had his own notion of it being a carefully choreographed contempt when he called it so, but it is not. It is the love and respect within the forces from across the border, only masked by the aggression and loyalty towards their duty that creates another impression. To understand what this really means, u either got to be a Hindustani or Pakistani. None other shall be able to feel the love and respect we share.

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Author : Karan Arora
Karan Arora has written 5 articles for us.
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The British Graduate 100 Awards.

Producer Karan Arora of Highground Enterprise was among the esteemed panel of judges of British Graduate 100, 2010.

Highground Enterprise sponsored the category "MEDIA, FILM & ARTS" of Graduate 100.

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