After Ajay Devgn, Randeep Hooda is smitten by Battle of Saragarhi

Actor will play lead in period film on 1897 battle between a tiny Sikh Regiment detachment and 10,000 Afghans; Devgn's Sons of Sardaar is based on same plot

Mayur Lookhar

He left no stone unturned playing the doomed prisoner Sarbjit in the eponymous film earlier this year, getting reduced to almost a bag of bones. Next, Randeep Hooda will play another Sikh, this time an army havildar who led one of history's greatest last stands at a small outpost in the North West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan, in 1897.

The actor tweeted about the upcoming film in which he will play Havildar Ishar Singh.

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought on 12 September 1897 between a small detachment of the British Indian Army and Afghan Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen. The tiny group of 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikhs (now the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment) was attacked by a force of almost 10,000 Afghans. With the main British force at Fort Lockhart signalling its inability to send immediate reinforcements, the Sikhs, led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to the death. The Pathans had to set fire to the post to kill its last defender, Signalman Gurmukh Singh, who singlehandedly killed 20 tribesmen.

Interestingly, Ajay Devgn had recently unveiled the poster for his Sons of Sardaar: Battle of Saragarhi.

Curiously, this is not the first time Devgn finds another filmmaker working on the same plot. In 2002, Rajkumar Santoshi had directed Devgn in The Legend Of Bhagat Singh. The same year saw Guddu Dhanao release his film on the freedom fighter called 23rd March 1931: Shaheed. There was a third film on Bhagat Singh, Shaheed-E-Azam, starring Sonu Sood.

Ironically, in 2002 Santoshi was directing Devgn. Now, his film with Hooda in the lead will be competing against Devgn.

Hooda is no stranger to biopics. He played the great painter Raja Ravi Verma in Rang Rasiya (2008) and notorious conman Charles Sobhraj in Main Aur Charles (2015). Hooda was last seen in the biopic on Sarbjit Singh.