Shaheed E Azam Sardar Udham Singh is a personality that instills revolution in one's mind and soul, even today. The Indian revolutionary who was hanged on the 31rst of July 1940, proved to be an inspiration for not just Indians but many of those who were fighting for independence.
We all are aware of the fact that Shaheed Udham Singh took revenge for the 1919 Jallianwalla Bagh massacre by killing Michael O’Dwyer in London in 1940 and was hanged the same year. But not many know that this Indian martyr had acted in two Hollywood films.
Though he was hanged in 1940, a few years before his death, he had worked in two English films titled Elephant Boy(1937) and The Four Feathers (1939). Udham Singh, who had changed his name to Ram Mohammed Singh Azad fired six shots at Michael O’Dwyer in Caxton Hall in Westminster, London on March 13 in 1940.
The Lt-Governor of Punjab in British India, Michael O’Dwyer had ordered General Reginald Dyer to open fire on the gathering at Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, killing between 370 and 1,000 people. Udham Singh went to England to avenge the massacre.
Both the films, Elephant Boy(1937) and The Four Feathers (1939), were produced by the famous Hollywood director Alexander Korda and his younger brother Zolton Korda. The film Elephant Boy was based on the story of ‘Toomai of the Elephants’ in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. It was shot at London Films Studios and in Mysore. It was released in 14 countries, including England, on April 9, 1937, but never in India. It won the Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival.
Udham Singh acted as an `extra’ in both the films to raise money for the activities of the London branch of the Ghadar Party which was fighting for India’s independence.
This hidden fact about the martyr is written in the book titled The Amritsar Legacy, written by the British writer Roger Perkin. The book came out in the year 1989, more than forty years after Singh's death.
Udham Singh was cremated in his birthplace of Sunam in Punjab and his ashes were scattered in the Sutlej river. Some of his ashes were retained; these retained ashes are kept inside a sealed urn at Jallianwala Bagh.