How can any patriotic and filmy Indian ever forget the Rampuri Chaku? The feeble click of opening this knife used to send shockwaves through the viewers of Hindi Cinema during the funky times of the 1970s. It was a rare yet outstanding piece of weaponry that conveyed style and terror.
Rampuri Chaku, as the name suggests originated from the Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh State of India. Its phase of glory was during the early to mid 19th century when every local goon or thug in the state found it as an extremely handy yet deadly device. The rustic quality, the rough-edged blades, and the blade length of 9 to 12 inches were some of the significant characteristics that pushed this knife to the forefront of weaponry amongst the local dacoits in the very heart of India.
The Rampuri Chaku is a version of a Gravity Knife. For those who are unclear: A gravity knife is a type of knife that opens up the “blade-end” of the knife with the help of the force of inertia or gravity. Being significantly different from a switchblade, a gravity knife does not open with a spring-propelled blade but instead opens due to a button that releases the clench holding the blade. The blade then unfurls thanks to the gravitational pull and thus it is aptly referred to as a “Gravity” Knife.
The iconic Rampuri Chaku gained further momentum when they slowly started appearing in films as a villain’s right hand. This knife only complemented the cutting-edge style and the deadly words of the villains of yesteryear. The very sound of the Knife opening used to send anxiety and fear among the engrossed audience of the cinema.
Despite the ever-growing popularity of the Rampuri Chaku, it was deeply hit by the 1990 Government regulation that banned all knives with blades longer than 4.5 inches. Due to the increasing thefts and attacks, the government had no other option than to ban such knives. This came as a huge hit to the blacksmiths of the state of Uttar Pradesh where many families have been involved in knife-making for several decades. The fall in the sale of knives is highly evident if you make a visit to Chaku Bazaar at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. From the 200 shops that were beautifully established in the 1980s employing hundreds of people, this cottage industry has deteriorated and shrunk to half-a-dozen shops of which only 76 people have licenses to make and sell knives. Furthermore, the increasing demand for pistols has also contributed to the decline of this iconic instrument.
As a result of the diminishing popularity, the Rampuri Chaku is slowly becoming an endangered device that is in reality, nearing extinction. Despite the fading popularity of the Rampuri Chaku, its style, design, usage, deadliness, and raw rustic quality are all prominent characteristics that make this knife a class apart.