Rebel with a Cause
The lure of dollars, immigration rackets and illegal travel agents form the base of the film Nabar
When it comes to Punjab and Punjabis, the hunger to go abroad, the lust for dollars and pounds, and the flash of the NRI tag is insatiable. "So much so that they allow desperation to take control. In this craving to go to vilait, they empty their bank accounts, sell their land and valuables, and walk into traps set by illegal travel agents. This is what my film Nabar is about," says filmmaker Rajeev Sharma who has chosen an unusual title for an unusual subject. Nabar deals with the illegal immigration racket, also called Kabootarbaazi.
In literal terms, Nabar means baaghi (a rebel), and Sharma is one with a cause addressing an issue that is corroding all that is vital to Punjab. "NRIs come here, show off their big money and paint a picture of luxury and great life abroad without realising how deeply and adversely it affects the Punjabis here," says Sharma. He doesn't deny the success stories, but adds that there is a great deal of sacrifice and failure also.
Nabar is representative of one such story, derived from a news item that Sharma came across a couple of years ago. "It was about a young Punjabi boy from Hoshiarpur in Punjab and how he was allegedly murdered in Mumbai by illegal travel agents who promised to send him abroad. In spite of opposition from all quarters, bribes, and threats, the father of the deceased, without any solid proof, fought the case and the agents were convicted and sentenced to life," says Sharma.
Sharma is also disturbed by the heavy brain drain, the lure of greener pastures not promised to all and the flourishing breed of illegal agents who fleece people and rob them of their lives and their loved ones. "Some people in Punjab will do anything to go abroad, even if that means manipulation or corruption. They forge documents, marry illegally, fake relations ó it has become a business," says Sharma, adding how this has landed many Punjabis in jails in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. In many cases, the people work as merely labourers in foreign countries.
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