Shaheed Udham Singh is remembered as a revolutionary and legendary nationalist who was awarded death sentence after he was found guilty of murder in 1940. He is known for murdering British administrator Michael O’Dwyer who gave a go-ahead to Brigadier-General R.E.H. Dyer to carry out the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that claimed lives of hundreds of men, women, and children while leaving thousands injured.
However, not many are aware that apart from being a freedom fighter struggling for independence under the colonial rule, Udham Singh had performed several other roles. Did you know that Udham Singh had acted in two Hollywood films?
Yes, just a years before he was hanged Udham Singh acted in 2 Hollywood films that included Elephant Boy (1937) and The Four Feathers (1939). Why you ask? He acted in these English movies, to so he could earn some extra money to support the Ghadar Party, an organisation comprising of a group of Indians coming together to end the British rule in India.
Udham Singh who apparently went to London to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre worked as an extra in Alexander Korda’s Elephant boy that based on Toomai and the Elephants from The Jungle Book.
Even though the film never saw a release in India, the film went on to win the Best director’s award in the Venice Film Festival.
Another Hollywood flick called The Four Feathers (1939) was directed by Zolton Korda. Udham Singh played an extremely small role in the movie that was about a British officer who disguises himself as an Arab to save his comrades.
Singh murdered Michael O’Dwyer in Caxton Hall in London after opening fire at him killing him on the spot in March 1940. He was handed on July 31, 1940, at Pentonville Prison.
Elephant Boy (1937)
This black and white movie is based on Rudyard Kipling’s “Toomai, of the Elephants”, in which a small native lad claims he knows the congregating place of the elephant hordes.
The Four Feathers (1939)
It was a blink-and-miss role, as was the other Korda film in which Singh played an extra. The Four Feathers (1939) is adapted from AEW Mason’s 1902 novel of the same name and set in Sudan in the late 1880s during the time of the Mahdi insurrection. British officer Harry Faversham, in repentance for an earlier cowardly act, disguises himself as a native, and heroically fights to rescue his friends.
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Resigning his commission on the eve of his unit’s deployment against Egyptian rebels, a British officer seeks to redeem his cowardice by secretly aiding his former comrades – disguised as an Arab. When his unit is overwhelmed and captured by the rebels, the hero finds an opportunity to return the ‘feathers’ of cowardice sent to him by his former comrades by freeing them.
Director: Zoltan Korda
Writers: A.E.W. Mason (by), R.C. Sherriff (screenplay)