Though Haryana, Western U.P., Delhi and some parts of Rajasthan remained a composite cultural heartland of the country through ages, the rich cultural heritage of this part of land faced turbulent political upheavals because it was also the battlefield. Whenever an invader grabbed power, the people of the region had to become a close society keeping intact their cultural heritage. It is evident from the historical records that the various 'jan padas' of this part of land never exposed themselves to the way of life and cultural traditions of the foreign powers. This was the reason for their success in preserving their cultural heritage and also for fighting out the foreign powers whenever such occasions came.
An example of this long cultural struggle is the first war of Independence in 1857 when Meerut, Delhi and all parts of Haryana upsurged against the British. At that time Haryana was part of the North-West Frontier Province, with headquarters at Agra. There was a great mass-upsurge when people from all areas irrespective of their religious faith fought for freedom and completely wiped out the British Rule. But, unfortunately, the rulers of Patiala, Nabha and Jind came to the rescue of the British forces and with their help the British were able to recapture Delhi after fighting battles right from Ambala to Delhi. After the victory, the British tried to break the cultural and political bonds and made Haryana a part of Punjab and started ruling the area upto Hodel Palwal beyond Delhi from Lahore. This was a big cultural jolt. The British during their ninety year-rule tried their best to suppress to cultural heritage of the people of the region. They tried to make these areas a part of Punjabi culture, despite the fact that the people of this region had a separate cultural identity. This was the reason that during the last span of the British Rule there were demands at different times for creating a new Province with the name of Maha Dilli or Agar Pradesh.
Some Haryanvi Writers have dome remarkable work to revive the Haryana Culture. The names which deserve special mention are of Dr. Budh Parkash, Devi Shankar Prabhakar, Dr. Shankar Lal and Raja Ram Shastri. They have written reference books on Haryana folk-lore. In 1956 a book entitled Haryana Ke Lok Geet in Hindi and Punjabi under the co-authorship of M.S. Randhawa and Devi Shankar Prabhakar attained the distinction of reference book for Research Scholars. Devi Shankar Prabhakar was also experimented on a new theatre on the background of the folk theatre of Haryana. His two Haryanvi full length plays namely Kisan Ka Beta and Dharati Ki Beti were published and enacted by a number of folk theatre groups in Haryana. In 1959 another landmark was achieved by Prabhakar when his 85-minute folk-opera on ancient legend of Nihal De was selected for the national programme of All India Radio, Delhi played a vital role in projecting the Haryanvi folk culture through its Haryanvi programme under the able guidance of late Ch. Pratap Singh and Pt. Hidey Ram, who served the A.I.R. for a long time and dedicated themselves to the cause of Haryanvi Culture.
To promote folk arts, The state government appointed Prabhakar as the State Cultural Officer ad it was decided to from a State Cultural Troupe to represent Haryanvi culture at the Sate and National levels. A talent hunt was made and for the first time girls were persuaded to perform on the stage.
This cultural upsurge attracted a number of scholars, especially at the University level to do research on the various aspects of folk-culture, traditions and folk heritage of Haryana. Now, a large number of cultural groups and organizations have been established in Haryana to serve the cause of Haryanvi culture. The folk dances, folk dramas and folk singing in Haryanvi have become popular at the State and National level. Hundreds of research scholars are busy doing further research with the help of the pioneering work done by earlier scholars.
Role of Haryanvi Films in Cultural Revival
After Independence films have become one of the most powerful medium of entertainment in India. At present India is one of the top-level country in the field of film making. Hindi films are not only popular in India but also throughout the world. Besides these films, a remarkable progress has been made in regional films. South India and West Bengal have attained a remarkable position in producing regional films, depicting the cultural heritage of the various regions. However, the progress of making regional films in the Hindi belt of North India remained slow due to the fact that the Hindi knowing people of the various provinces of the Hindi heartland have been getting entertainment through Hindi films. Hence, the production of films in Gujarati, Rajasthani, Avdhi and Bhojpuri is a development of recent period. But as compared with regional films in South Indian languages, Bengali and Marathi, the progress has been slow.
In the context of Haryana, the film remained very few till 1984. In the 70s, only two pictures called as Haryanvi were released Harphool Singh and Beera Shera! Both the films failed in catching the imagination of Haryanvis because they did not represent the true culture of Haryana. After the failure of these two Haryanvi films, nobody dared to produce a Haryanvi film for a decade. However, in 1980 some youngster having interest in the production of Haryanvi films approached Devi Shankar Prabhakar to help them in the cause.
Birth of Chandrawal
When Chandrawal was released in March, 1984, it created a stir in the film industry. Chandrawal has broken all records on the box office in Haryana, Western U.P., Delhi and parts of Rajasthan of the great-hit Hindi films like Sholey and Bobby. The entire cost of the film was recovered from the window of Gagan Cinema, Faridabad where the film celebrated Silver Jubilee. In Western U.P. the film even surpassed the success in Haryana when it celebrated its Golden Jubilee at Muzaffarnagar and Silver Jubilee at Meerut, Shamli and Saharanpur. Chandrawal has set a world record when the Producers honoured a dozen of cine goers of Haryana and Western U.P. who witnessed 'Chandrawal' more than 200 times.
The great and unprecedented success of Chandrawal created wide spread temptation amongst the investors for producing Haryanvi films and for making fast money. Just after Chandrawal a number of films were produced by so many producers with titles like Ke Sapne Ka Jikar, Chhora Haryana Ka, Bateu, Bhanwer Chameli, Chhori Supelle Ke, Panghat and others. The film produced under the banner of Parbhakar Films have maintained their face in the field. After Chandrawal came Laddo Basanti in 1985 and Phool Badan in 1986. Though, these films have not succeeded like Chandrawal for financial gains, yet both these films became popular with the people.