Monday, September 12, 2005

A Sikh Film Festival in Long Island

There's going to be a film festival at Hofstra University in a couple of weeks, on Sikh cinema, the Spinning Wheel Film Festival. Interesting -- I didn't know there was such a thing as Sikh cinema! Here are some of the films they're screening:

Legend of Malerkotla: A Tale from the Punjab
Directed by Iqbal Malhotra

Sewa: From Paris to Tapovan (scroll down)
Reema Anand

Ranjit Singh
Directed by T.Sher Singh

Directed by Sukhwinder Singh

Kaya Taran
Directed by Shashi Kumar

Khamosh Pani
Directed by Sabiha Sumar

The last film on the list above, Khamosh Pani (Silent Water) is a recent partition film. Also, I'd heard tell of this religious/devotional film Sahibzadey, which is done entirely in CGI (computer animation). The rest of the titles are new to me, though I did know about T. Sher Singh, a widely respected journalist in Ontario (Guelph, to be exact).

There do appear to be some propagandistic films in the mix on the full program, but also some films that might appeal to a general audience (especially Kaya Taran and Khamosh Pani). It's also worth noting that the choice of films and filmmakers is secular (non-Sikhs have made several of the films), and pretty closely controlled (no cheesy Bollywood flicks).


Blogger RajpaL said...

Sikh Cinema? I have never heard of this term before as well. There is Punjabi cinema though which after a long downturn has surfaced again - thanks to some recent good quality family entertainment such as Jee Aayan No, Asan Nu Maan Watnaan Da & Des Hoya Pardes (starring Gurdaas Maan & Juhi Chawla). Famous Bollywood cinematographer turned Director Manmohan Singh (Of DDLJ fame - more info here - is making 'Yaara Naal Bahara' with Jimmy Shergill, Juhi Babbar (Raj Babbars daugher) after 2 successive hits as mentioned earlier(Jee Aayan No & Asan Nu Maan Watnaan Da) and is the man resposible for uplifting Punjabi cinema to its current state. Apparenly Bobby Deol is also appearing in an upcoming Punjabi flick aptly titled 'Nalayek'.

In the past decades, there has been some more quality movies such as Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai, Chann Pardesi (The only Punjabi Film to ever win the "National Award"), Putt Jattan Dey, Laung Da Lishkara, Mann Jeete Jagjeet, Ucha Dar Babey Nanak Da etc but they were over shadowed by really bad punjabi movies which had no social, family or entertainment value altogether. Most of the movies were made with the word 'Jatt' such as Jatt Da Gandasa, Jatt Dee Zameen etc and had loud actors, bad music, cheap comedy and literally made people stop watching Punjabi movies.

There is no dearth of Punjabi talent though. All good quality actors such as Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Om Puri moved onto greener pastures (read Bollywood) after appearing in some good Punjabi movies. Other screen legends include Punjabis such as Dev Anand, Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Dharmender, Kapoor family, singers like Mohammad Rafi, directors like Yash Chopra, Gulzar (real name Sardar Sampooran Singh), Lyricist Sahir Ludhianwi etc.

Buts its good to see some good quality Punjabi movies these days.

9:30 PM  
Blogger bhupinder singh said...

'Sikh cinema' is as off the mark as Khushwant Singh listing Amrita Pritam among Sikh poets in his 'History of the Sikhs', a book that is premised on a communal interpretation of history much in the tradition of Cunningham and colonial British historiography. One hopes that the term doesnt catch on.

8:16 PM  
Blogger neha vish said...

It would be criminal to miss Khamosh Paani..

7:38 AM  
Anonymous SMR said...

I'm with bs on this. Not sure I understand the category of Sikh cinema (leave alone its utility)...I'm growing increasingly weary of cleaving identities on communal lines, as though the privileging of religious identity makes perfect sense (especially given the subcontinent's devastating history).

Disclaimer: If it's not obvious from the above, I'd be equally suspicious of "hindu" cinema or "muslim" cinema...

11:21 AM  
Blogger BCSikhYouth said...

Hopefully Sikh Cinema can help bring the light of Gurmat into the community and counterract stereotypes of Bollywood cinema.

beautiful Gurbani.

beautiful work you are doing.

great seva.

Vaheguru ji ka khalsa,
Vaheguru ji ki fatheh!

BC Sikh Youth

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Jas Preet Singh said...

its really good that someone has given a nice thought of giving a birth to "Sikh Cinema"
I would just like to say that there are some more good films and plays(which can be converted to movies) based on Sikh History, like:
"Dharam di Chadar"
Director: Hardeep Singh (Mohali)
"Assi Dun Swai Hoye" - based on novel 'Bijay Singh' by Bhai Veer Singh.
...many more.
These can also be invited to Film Festivals to promote the Sikh Art and Talent.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Sikh Youths said...

Sharing below letter written from sikh yout to a number of punjabi heritage organizations:-
Dear Punjabi friends
This is an effort to raise a concern about our diminishing Punjabi culture not outside Punjab but within Punjab itself.I am a Punjabi settled in USA and basically from Punjab and during my multiple visits to Punjab and watching Punjabi youth in core of Punjab,I witnessed that we are losing the pride and grace of our turban. Indian cinema impacted the life of whole youth of India and this swallowed Punjabi youth’s century old identity. Even in Punjab, when a turbaned man was the fantasy and dream man of a Punjabi woman, it is no more so. Turbaned man is presented in funny and ungraceful images. In all the man-woman and romantic roles, It is always a clean-shaven face attached with woman fantasy. Although it was a complaint against Hindi Cinema, but the Punjabi cinema never did less than that. Even in our own Punjabi movies, it is always a turban less youth presented in man-woman romance. I have heard a number of instances in our near by villages when a girl expresses the desire to their parents to marry only a turbanless man. A turbaned man is continuously being thrown out of the Punjabi woman’s dreams. When I saw a recent movie ‘Asa Nu Maan Watna Da” not a single turbaned youth is presented who were looking for their life partener. In fact every effort was made to present them like Hindi typical heroes. I am wondering for how long all these people will go on befooling us and using our language to attack our own culture. I feel we need to raise this voice otherwise soon it will become a rare scene to see a Punjabi youth with beautiful turban. All these so called Punjabi movies are playing un-frinedly role while on the other side our Punjabi brothers go on appreciating these subtle enemies who themselves are dependent of copy cat bollywood directors.I am raising this voice to you because I know a number of thoughtful Punjabi brothers are part of your organization and I hope you will use your respected platform to pass this voice further so that deaf ears of these producers/directors can hear how much harm they are doing to us in our own language and in our own home.

With regards

Sikh Youth Federation

12:37 PM  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

image and education my friend, image is everything! Education, especially by parents is really important! If you raise your children as Sikhs and give them pride and show Sikhs in a positive manner! They will become Sikhs, but if parents fail, somebody else like media (such as hollywood, bollywood), or religion (such as chirstianity, islam) will create an image for them and mold them into their way. Invest in good Sikh books, draw pictures of Sikh men, women and children (it may even be imaginary) in space suits, army, farming, science labs, poetic. Sikhi is so beautiful that we have not even explored most of it. Waheguru!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous bikramjeet singh bhullar said...

great news !! hats off to the people who came forward with such a great idea. sikh film festival.any idea how to get in touch with the organization.
bikramjeet singh
email :

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though my comment is coming 1.5 years too late, I thought I'd comment because there hasn't been an actual comment left by anyone who has attended the festival - it's really good. It's not about judging people for being religious or not religious enough, and instead is about us discussing Sikh Identity and what it means to consider yourself Sikh at all. The festival highlights achievements of Sikhs in films. The rest is up to the audience.

Check out the event - it's held in Toronto but also in other cities around the US and will be in New Delhi in 2007 as well as London sometime after that.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous G P Singh said...

There is another movie just launched "dali nalon tor na sanu" which is based on the teachings and cultural revolution started by Bhai Vir Singh. What we miss today is "decent" punjabi music and this movie takes us to the new heights. It has wonderful presentation of poems. It is actually acted by amatures who have tried to convey a message of wearing Turban and are proud to be Sikh. It talks about actual sikh culture and not what is generally shown as comic characters. See this, promote this and feel pride.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is stupid. A film also shows many other things other clean shaven men romancing women. Just because its in a film does not people have to do it. It all depends on ones own thinking. It does not matter what your parents have taught or are teaching you. Some people want a different life that may not be a sikh life. Poeple need to get over it and move, there are bigger things to worry about then turbaned men such as the declining number of females in India (Punjab as a state has the highest female mortality rate), the beggars, the deceiving politicians that people with/without a turban support.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Sanjay Kalra said...

I just watched Khamosh Pani - totally blew me away! Haven't seen anything so subtle yet so intense in a long time.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, It's a crime to miss out Khamosh Paani. Sabiha Sumar, the director, does a wonderful job. Music and songs rendered by Dr. Madan Gopal Singh are of highest quality. Apart, the movie is made with such a neutral approach, truly reflecting the heart of Punjabiyat.
Bollywood has inflicted a huge loss on Sikh image in recent times, but, there were some very good portrayal of Sikh characters by Directors like Govind Nihalani. His TV serial cum telefilm "Tamas" is the one. Also, he made "Vijeta" with a turbaned Sikh fighter pilot as lead. Shashi Kapoor's son Kunal Kapoor did that part. Recently, "Amu" by Sonali Bose was a good release. "Train to Pakistan" by Pamela Rooks is good. Gulzar's daughter Meghna Gulzar did a short movie "Pooranmaashi" in the release "Dus Kahaniaan". In 20 min. she delivers such a powerful story, that no 3hrs. Karan Johar's movie can do. In punjabi movies, "Long da Lishkara" is one my favourite. Raj Babbar did a punjabi movie "Marhi da Diva" based on a novel by Gurdyal Singh. Balraj Sahani made "Pavittar Paapi" based on Nanak Singh's novel. Then there is "Ik Chadar Maili Si" based on a novel by Rajinder Singh Bedi. So, there are people who did good job showing Sikh/Punjabi culture in cinema, but may be not so popular. Here's a link to Sabiha Sumar's interview.

6:07 PM  

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