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'A Little Poland in India' offers a glimpse into the past

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A rare glimpse into the lives of five World War survivors, who found refuge in has been made into a film co-produced by and Poland under an audio-visual agreement between the two countries.

"A Little Poland in India", features a period in history when 1000 Polish children from war-torn Poland and from prison camps in Siberia travelled to and were taken under the wing of Maharaja 'Jam Saheb' Digvijaysinghji of the erstwhile Indian princely state of Nawanagar in Gujarat.

He built a camp called Balchandi beside his summer palace, 25 km away from his capital city Jamnagar where he provided the children not only shelter but also education and medical assistance among other things.

"When we arrived at the camp, the Maharaja gave a party but he did not know what we children liked to eat. The spicy indian food, despite being hungry we didn't eat. Bapu saw this said don't worry we will fix this", says Wielslaw Stypula, one of survivors. The Maharaja was fondly called as "Bapu" by those in the camp.

The film provides a glimpse into the lives of the five of the "Survivors of Balchandi" as they refer to themselves, and also the memories of the four years from 1942 to 1946 that they spent in India.

Directed by Anu Radha and Sumit Osmand Shaw, the documentary also depicts a love story, where Jerzy Tomaszek marries his childhood love Jadwiga in 2008, at the age of 78.

"I met her in Balachadi camp. I loved her since the age of 15, but married her at the age of 78 years. We perhaps need to thank Maharaja Jam Saheb for our meeting", narrates Jadwiga Tamaszek, a survivor, in the film which premiered at the Doordarshan Studio here today.

"There are no boundaries and no continents between human hearts - those that are filled with compassion and love.The love that the Polish survivors share for India still - has filled me with humility and pride to the land that I was born in", said Anu Radha, who directed the film.

Produced by the National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw and Doordarshan, the film is scheduled to be officially telecast on November 10 and November 11 on DD national.

It is also the opening film of the first 'Kinoteka Polish Festival' of classic Polish cinema here November 18.

First Published: Thu, November 07 2013. 17:48 IST
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