The Lost Empire

$1,103 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 5 months
Help us tell his incredible story of co-existence, unity, equality, secularity, and heroism in a time of mass colonial oppression. With your support we can showcase the meteoric rise of a golden age that would eventually fall into darkness.

The Lost Empire
is a cinematic documentary chronicling the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Utilizing dramatic recreations, interviews, and on location footage to construct a dramatic and cinematic look into an era of unprecedented events in the Indian sub continent. Please watch our proof of concept trailer to feel the style and tone of the project!

35339196_1546583117741378_r.jpeg(The Toor Collection, UK https://davindertoor.com/)

Spread across the globe as a diasporic people there is an estimated 106 million people with Punjabi heritage, however there is a lack of content on the Punjabi peoples, one of the largest ethnic groups on Earth.

This was a golden age whose story has not been told. Help us reach our goal so we can bring life to this forgotten chapter in history. 

We are a group of filmmakers from Burnaby, British Columbia; Manvinder Dhak, Vrinder Sangha, Gary Chutai, Abubakar Khan, and Manny Mahal.

35339196_1546584042449688_r.jpeg(Behind the Scenes still from our production)

In the past our films have played at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Snowdance Independent Film Festival, the Buffalo International Film Festival, and DOXA the Documentary Film Festival.

We have set out to make a documentary on the lost legacy of Ranjit Singh and the last kingdom to fall to the British in the 19th century. See more of our work at http://www.betruecine.works/


35339196_1546584165862110_r.jpeg(Still from our production)

We started this project in March 2017 and through our development process we used our collective savings and self funded a trip to India. With a minimal amount of film gear, and a lot of favours with our family in India we were able to film some of the historic places and remnants of the empire.

We were able to travel across several unique location on our first leg of production which stretched from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh India. Cities included Amritsar, Attari, Bathinda, Dera Baba Nanak, Hoshiapur, Ferozpur, Mudki, Ananadpur Sahib, Raikot, Ludhiana, Ropar, Chamkaur, Shimla, Kangra, Mumbai, Nanded, and Delhi.


35339196_1546584842386250_r.jpeg(A Behind the Scene still from our production)


However many important historical places remain including the capital of Lahore, and citiies such as Gujranwala, Multan, Islamabad, Kashmir, Peshawar, Jamrud, Srinagar, and Attock.

For centuries religious tensions in India would rise or calm down depending on the rulers at the time. More often than not, religion was a factor for in fighting among the people. Leaving the people susceptible to raids and invasions from powerful foreign armies from Afghanistan.


35339196_1546584925102632_r.jpeg(Still from our production)

Ranjit Singh nearly died from smallpox at age 6. His land holdings on the border with the invading Afghans, he fought in his first battle at age 10. At age 17 he defended Punjab from a full scale Afghan invasion. At 21 he would become the first Maharaja (King) of the Kingdom or Punjab/Lahore Durbar.


35339196_1546585026706577_r.jpeg(The Toor Collection, UK https://davindertoor.com/)

His mission became to create a sovereign state, that treated all individuals regardless of religion, caste, race or gender with equally.

Preparing his new empire for any future incursion from the British conquest to his south. Bringing in western ideas and thoughts to modernize his army.

35339196_1546585116843147_r.jpeg(Still from our production)

Opening up schools for women, and for religious based skills and trades. The education rate in the capital Lahore far exceeded the education rate in London.

His expansion of the empire led to the liberation of hundreds of thousands of oppressed peoples. He did not rape and pillage his enemies, he brought them in as family, and in the ordinary citizen instilled the proud notion that we are all one. United.

35339196_1546585139591899_r.jpeg(Still from our  production)

Our goal is to display the strong sense of community our people shared, as the proceeding British rule created a divided and divisive environment for the populace.

Showing the secular love that existed among our people and the monumental events that propelled such a unique society in an era of colonial bloodshed and tyranny.


35339196_1546585239273954_r.jpeg(The Last Queen of Punjab, Maharani Jind  Kaur, also known as "The  Rebel Queen")

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh Empire has been a widely forgotten era of history.

However, this era holds a story that should be brought to life on screen. Many historical dramatic twists and turns occurred in a widely destructive war of succession.


35339196_1546585287983193_r.jpeg(Ranjit Singh sitting in an ornate chair. The Toor Collection, UK see more at https://davindertoor.com/)

The rise and fall of the kingdom of Punjab holds stories of love, intrigue, betrayal, heartbreak, and futility. This stories rivals the dramatic events of the War of the Roses, and Game of Thrones. The quote "You win or you die" rings true.

THE VISION

35339196_154658532341185_r.jpeg(Macbeth(2015) dir. Justin Kurzel)

Combining dynamic interviews with scholars, real life footage from the places of prominence, and dramatic recreations we will be able to create a style of documentary that is both cinematically and dramatically breathtaking, and educationally engaging.

Inspired by the beautifully crafted scenes in Macbeth(2015) we aim to create a visual spectacle that represents all facets of the Lost Empire with this flair and stylized approach.

35339196_1546585455365851_r.jpeg(Macbeth(2015) dir. Justin Kurzel)

We need your help to help bring this dream to life, for the battles, and pivotal dramatic recreations to be displayed including a cinematic re creation of Ranjit Singh's defence of Punjab from the Afghan invasion of 1797, at the age of 17.

35339196_1546585480555165_r.jpeg(Macbeth(2015) dir. Justin Kurzel)

With the financial support we will be able to bring this dream to fruition. The money would go to the below.

- Travelling to and shooting in Pakistan. The capital of the kingdom Lahore as well as Gujranwala, Multan, Islamabad, Peshawar, Jamrud, Attock, and many more important locations in Pakistan. As well as interviewing prominent scholars on the Kingdom of Punjab that live in Lahore.

35339196_1546585543295373_r.jpeg(The Hazuri Bagh inside the Lahore Fort)

From inside the Lahore Fort, and Hazuri Bagh Ranjit Singh governed the Kingdom. Gujranwala was his birth place from where he staged the unification of the region and defence from invaders. Multan is where the rebellion to British annexation broke out.

- Flying and accommodation to London, England to interview historians and researchers. Including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London where many artifacts of the Sikh Empire are held.

35339196_154658556471706_r.jpeg(The V&A Museum in London, UK)

- Hiring actors for dramatic re-enactments

35339196_1546585597423096_r.jpeg

- Hiring a stunt coordinator and battle choreographer

35339196_154658562585279_r.jpeg

- Acquiring prop weaponry, and costumes

35339196_1546585647144751_r.jpeg

- Film equipment rentals.



With your help and support we can craft an authentic experience, and bring the Lost Empire back with stunning cinematic quality.



THE HISTORY

35339196_1546585670645382_r.jpeg

The Kingdom of Punjab existed from 1801, Ranjit Singh passed away in 1939, and his death left turmoil in the empires succession. As the kingdom was weakened from this struggle for the throne, many worthy and honorable contenders for the throne would fall. Left with a child Monarch in Duleep Singh, and his mother the last Queen Maharani Jind Kaur, the Lahore Durbar was annexed by the British Empire in 1846. Its borders had once stretched from Tibet, through Punjab to the west into the Khyber pass.

35339196_154658572068780_r.jpeg

In this time a golden age arose. The warring factions of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs of the region were united and lived in harmony. The government represented the diversity of the land and had officials from all backgrounds, religious freedom was encouraged and force conversions ended.

35339196_154658577750360_r.jpeg


A rich and distinct military force that would not pillage and oppress its conquered states. The defeated were treated with respect. In certain instances citizens of neighbouring states helped Ranjit Singhs armies invade to join the golden age. Reforms were made to improve the security of the people (after centuries of bloodshed), reduction in violence and crime, reopened trade routes, and great freedom for commerce to grow.

35339196_1546586067714556_r.jpeg


Immigration was welcomed and over 100 westerners served in the military. Ranjit Singh enlisted the help of Napoleons former generals and solders, as well as other marauders. In total 100 westerns served in the Army including Jean-François Allard, Jean-Baptiste Ventura, Claude Auguste Court, Paolo Avitabile, and American Alexander Gardner. These men would help to revolutionize and modernize the military of the Empire.


35339196_1546585981853668_r.jpeg
As Ranjit Singhs life came to an end, the Empire fell into disarray as different forces struggled for control. The intriguing cloak and dagger time was ripe with betrayal and assassinations. All of the capable heirs in the line of succession would die or be murdered. This left weaker leaders and made it easier for the British East  Company to finally draw there line in the sword, and take all of India. The British went on to fight two wars with the Sikh Empire, annexing and taking the last ruler hostage; shipping him to London. The final holdout in the Indian subcontinent to British rule fell, but we hope to make its legacy endure time.


35339196_1547099075924292_r.jpeg


Help us tell this story of truly secular co-existence, love, triumph, and understanding.

If you have any questions or inquires please let us know at betruecineworks@gmail.com and visit www.betruecine.works to see more media.
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$1,103 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 5 months
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