Three days after the celebration of Indian Arrival Day, a boat stationed at the Oropouche River at Woodland sailed to Debe, Penal with over 40 passengers. The white, cotton-clad travellers depicting the arrival of their ancestors were caught on camera as production began on the film Chalo Chinnidad based on a 2003 novel by the same name and written by Jangbahadur Bhagirathee.
A blend of history and fiction, the story revolves around a young man named Mohan and begins in a rural village in India. Mohan stumbles upon a man assigned to recruit workers for a plantation in Trinidad. The arkathi, as the recruiter was known, was well respected and was able to send Mohan to the Picton sugar estate in South Trinidad.
The writer injected love stories into the tale specially designed for young students and following the release of the novel proceeded to write a screenplay that caught the eye of a top movie producer in India.
Bhagirathee said the producers he approached felt that no film produced by the Hindi film industry had effectively told the story of Indentureship.
"I was overwhelmed by the response I received from the Indian film industry," he said.
The writer, born in a village in Debe, Penal, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in Canada and worked at Moruga Composite School where he taught History and Social Studies.
He said while teaching he noticed a lack of literature on the people of Indian origin.
"I was inspired to write the book and include some of the rich history of my people," he said.
The story is set in the period 1900 to 1950 and paints a picture of a simple, happy and hardworking people who quickly rose in rank to take their place among the more affluent residents.
The screenplay captures the imagination with romantic love. Mohan and Sumintra are childhood lovers. He was forced to leave her behind when he boarded the ship for Trinidad. A few years later, he came home from work in the sugarcane fields and finds Sumintra fast asleep in his bed.
On the ship, travelling to Trinidad, he also encountered a couple deeply in love. They had opted to leave India to be together. In the fields, a love story blossomed between a widow and European overseer. They had a child together and were later married.
Typical of films produced by Bollywood movie producers, there will be music, songs and dance carrying the story forward.
Trinidad-born, American based singer Rohini Dubey has been tentatively hired to render songs for the movie.
She said, "The time has come for us to raise our heads and salute our achievements."
Author Bhagirathee has been preparing for the film for a long time and following the release of the book attended the Hollywood Film Institute where he graduated in film direction and production. He currently resides in New York and has been travelling to and from Trinidad in the process of setting up production work of the film depicting the struggles and accomplishments of the Indians in the New World.
Chalo Chinnidad, the Land of Sugar gives way to Trinidad, land of the HummingBird.
The screen writer/author noted that as generations born on the island from all ethnicities and races found themselves an equal place, Chinnidad was left behind and Trinidad became the real home.
Production is expected to run into millions of dollars, Bhagirathee said adding that he wanted the film to capture the positive outcome of a journey that held promise though it contained many struggles and hardships.