Road to Sangam (Hindi: रोड टू संगम, Urdu: روڈ ٹو سنگم) is a 2009 Bollywood film written and directed by Amit Rai. The film features Bollywood actors Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra.
Road to Sangam is a simple story of a God fearing, devout Muslim mechanic named Hasmat Ullah (Paresh Rawal) who has been entrusted the job of repairing an old Ford V8 engine, not knowing the historic significance – that it once carried the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi which were immersed in the holy Triveni Sangam.
The film was released worldwide on 29 January 2010.
A simple story of a how a God fearing, devout Muslim mechanic named Hashmatullah (Paresh Rawal), resident of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, who has been entrusted the job of repairing an old Ford V8 engine not knowing the historic significance – that it once carried the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi which were immersed in the holy Triveni Sangam, imbibes the Gandhian values. The film begins with an imaginary sequence of events. The story has been imagined such that after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, his ashes were divided into 20 parts and sent to different provinces of India and then brought back, recollected and dispersed in Triveni Sangam in Allahabad. All (but one) parts of his ashes were dispersed in 1948 but one part somehow lay forgotten in a locker of Orissa State Bank for decades until one day this error is realised and Gandhi’s grandson claims it back by filing an application in the Orissa High Court. Government decides to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson’s wish is to disperse this forgotten part of ashes in Triveni Sangam in the same way the other parts of the ashes were dispersed. So the same Ford lorry which was used in 1948 is to be used again, and its engine has been given to Hashmat (Paresh Rawal) to be repaired. Hashmat comes to know about historic significance of the engine he is repairing when a news channel reporter comes to interview him. In another parallel development, there has been a terrorist bomb blast in a court of Uttar Pradesh. In relation to that bomb attack, Uttar Pradesh Police arrests some suspects (suspected to have links with the terror organisation Hizb-ul-Mujahideen) from various cities of Uttar Pradesh including the Muslim neighbourhood of Allahabad, where Hashmat lives. Hashmat is General Secretary of the Managing Committee of the main Mosque of Allahabad (Masjid-e-Azam). The Mosque Committee decides to hold a protest against the government and Police outside the Court Complex for arresting Muslim suspects. While Police tries to block the entry of protesting Muslims into the court, many of them succeed in breaking the police cordon and entering the court premises. Police beat them up with canes (lathicharge). One Muslim protester, while trying to scale the boundary wall of the Court, dies in an accident. It is revealed that the youth who died in the accident was none other than the nephew of Chairman of the Mosque Committee Nawab Kasuri (played by Om Puri). Infuriated Nawab Kasuri supported by Maulana of the Mosque Masjid-e-Azam calls for a ‘Bandh’ (General Strike) by all Muslims. All Muslims, whether in public or private sector, are ordered to stop work. Hashmat is caught between the community and his promise to deliver the Ford engine after repair to his friend – Mr. Rizvi- who works with Government of Uttar Pradesh. First he decides to return the engine unrepaired and goes to meet Mr. Rizvi at the museum where Mr. Rizvi works. He does not get to meet Mr. Rizvi but driven by circumstances he comes to know that Mahatma Gandhi laid his life fighting for safety of Muslims during Partition. His conscience appeals to him and he resolves to deliver the engine for Mahatma Gandhi’s cause. He asks the Mosque Committee to make exception for him (as this is for a cause) allowing him to return to work and deliver the engine in time, but Mosque Committee insults him and rebukes him. His family and friends turn against him. He is pressurised and physically attacked but he carries on with his work eventually winning over hearts of his fellow Muslims (who regarded him as a traitor) with Gandhian values and methods.
The film allegedly displays the split personality of Indian Muslims through irrational symbolism. In a scene, right in the beginning of the film, some Muslims are shown praising Pakistani Cricket Team and its famous players like Shahid Afridi and Javed Miandad insinuating towards the support which Pakistani Cricket Team enjoys over Indian Cricket Team in Muslim neighbourhoods of India. In contrast, the main protagonist Hashmatullah (portrayed as a moderate patriot Muslim) praises Sachin Tendulkar in the same scene. In a scene, it is shown how aristocrats are ruling the Muslim community with an iron fist. Nawab Kasuri (Om Puri) is angry with Hashmat and his family because Hashmat’s late elder brother, who was once an employee in Nawab Kasuri’s household, had contested an election against him for the Chairmanship of the Mosque Committee. Because a former employee dared to contest election against him the aristocrat bears a grudge against him for life. In many scenes, ordinary Muslims are seen fearing the aristocrat- Nawab Kasuri. In one argument, Hashmat asks his fellow shopkeepers, would they have not allowed him to work if this work was for cause of a Muslim personality, (and after a pause he says) like Jinnah. Hashmat sees Gandhi as one of his own not as a Hindu leader, and that is why he makes his work his cause, whereas for other Muslims Mosque’s order is above any cause.
Paresh Rawal – Hasmat Ullah
Om Puri – Nawab Mohammad Ali Kasuri
Pawan Malhotra – Maulana Qureshi
Javed Shaikh – Dr. Banerjee
Swati Chitnis – Aara
Masood Akhtar – Zulfikar
Yusuf Hussain – Gaffar