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A Former Civil Servant is now a Successful Film-Maker

Abiding passions and ambitions, if powerful enough, can drive a person well past his so-called retirement. Former IAS officer Bakhtawar Singh, who is now a successful film-maker and connoisseur of Sufi music, is a case in point.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Life always gives one a chance to play not just a second, but third and many more innings. The only requirement is your willingness to embrace the change and move with the flow of things. Who would know it better than Mr Bakhtawar Singh, the IAS officer from Punjab who became a full-time film-maker days after retiring from civil services?!

His story should give heart to many who have been nurturing similar ambitions but are afraid to take the plunge.

Mr Singh retired in February 2020. Without wasting any time, he got on to film-making, not allowing even the pandemic to come in the way of his decision. His short film titled `The Rule’, which released on February 7, 2020, depicts the venomous police-politicians’ nexus and how it affects the common man.

IDEA BEHIND THE FILM

In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Mr Singh opened up about his transformation from IAS officer to film-maker, as also his abiding passion of sufi music. “During the days of my service,’’ he said, “ I saw the unholy nexus which prevailed between the police and politicians. It used to impact me quite a lot during my service.

“After my retirement, the lockdown was imposed and during this time I planned on writing the script of the story. I wanted to present the real picture in front of the people, though in a form of an imagination, and this is how the short film (The Rule) came into existence. The film has been released and is streaming on YouTube and Hungama.”

‘The Rule’ short film

Mr. Singh developed an interest in filmmaking when he discovered that visual arts was the best way to spread a message. In fact, he first dabbled into film-making in 2018, wherein he depicted a happy and peaceful life of a small farmer.

THE FIRST FILM

While recalling about the idea he got for the first film, Mr. Singh said “In 2015, when I was serving as the Additional Deputy Commissioner-General (ADC-G) in Tarn Taran district, I read a news article on a farmer who was cultivating his own 1.5acre land and also a 2acre land on a rental basis in the district. The most important thing was that the farmer was not under any financial debt and was living a happy life with his wife and two children.”

“His daughter was a postgraduate and was married in a good family, whereas his son was also pursuing his studies and was helping the father side by side. I was impressed by the farmer’s lifestyle as he was making a statement for other distressed farmers. His village was in the same district where I was posted at that time. Hence, I planned to meet the farmer”, he added.

After meeting him, Mr. Singh heard the farmer’s story and was highly touched. He took a pledge to take this inspirational story in front of other farmers so that it can help them come out of the crisis. In 2018, the full-featured Punjabi film named ‘Saggi Phull’ got released in all theaters in Punjab.

‘Saggi Phull’ movie

This was the first time Mr. Singh found a way to express such stories through visual arts, as before this he used to express his feeling through writing Sufi lyrics.

INCLINATION TOWARDS SUFI MUSIC

Mr. Singh was pretty young when he started developing an interest in music. Having a prior education in literature, he also had a keen interest in writing. Coming from a farm labourer’s family, he became a Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer in 1992.

In the year 2000, his one-year-old son fell ill quite frequently. During this time, he befriended a doctor who introduced him to spiritualism. He attended a three-day camp at the Osho mission where he was told to write down his experiences.

Mr. Bakhtawar Singh meditation workshops

In 2003, he joined a meditation group. He said, “After experiencing the meditation sessions with the group I was enlightened and got tilted towards Sufi music. I released two books in Punjabi named ‘Paar jhana ton osda dera’ and ‘Jogi Ravi kinare rehnda’.”

Apart from writing lyrics, Mr. Singh is also the person behind promoting the Nooran Sisters, Yakoob Khan, Saida Begum, and other artists to the mainstream platforms. Being an avid Sufi listener, he used to love hearing to the late singer Barkat Sidhu on Doordarshan. After meeting him, Mr. Singh showed his work which was highly praised by the late singer who also gave him the suffix ‘Mian’.

Ustad Barkat Sidhu

The two worked together to record several songs, and the collaboration resulted in the release of the album “Tere Sang Sang” in 2006. From here onwards, there was no looking back for Mr Bakhtawar Singh, and he continues to take long strides even after his retirement.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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