By Aishwarya Nag Chaudhary
Udham Singh, one of India’s lesser known freedom fighters, just got an unconventional tribute. It did not come in the form of a gigantic statue or a ‘yojna’ (scheme) named after him. Nor was it the regular rift between the left and the right, the two sides trying to appropriate his bravery. Udham Singh, aka Frank Brazil, is the subject of a new music video. The Ska Vengers, a popular indie outfit, has released a video called ‘Frank Brazil’ as a tribute to the freedom fighter on the 75th anniversary of his execution.
Udham Singh, the Indian freedom fighter, was considered to be a terrorist in Britain. He was executed in Britain for the assassination of O’Dwyer. The Ska Vengers used the title ‘Frank Brazil’ from an alias during an overseas undercover trip.
This was a welcome change from the usual discourse on freedom struggle today. Discussions on the freedom struggle are relegated to Independence Day and Republic day. Today when someone even talks about India’s past it begins with the Vedas and ranges to rigid social constructs. This video is unusual yet progressive, considering the trivial subjects used in most contemporary music videos.
The four minute video tells the story of Udham Singh. Orphaned at an early age, Singh was serving water to the protesters at Jalianwala Bagh when the massacre took place. O’Dwyer was the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab at the time. Many believe that it was O’Dwyer who premeditated the massacre at Jalianwala Bagh. Singh traveled overseas to Britain and shot him at a town hall meeting in London. However, Singh did not attempt to flee the scene. He was arrested, tried and finally executed four months later.
The video was featured on VH1 on July 31st, marking the 75th anniversary of his assassination.
The song was born out of the band’s shared fascination for the freedom fighter. Taru Dalmia, the vocalist of Ska Vengers, said that the group was also inspired by blues singer Bessie Smith’s popular death song “Send me to the ‘letric chair.”
The new song features a feisty pro-independence protagonist who says his punishment does not scare him. He does not care if he spends 99 years in prison or is sent to the electric chair.