A film fest, by the Sikhs, for the Sikhs
Movies being screened at city Gurdwaras to make youth aware of spiritual roots Unlike the popular film festivals where stars and their paraphernalia assume importance over everything else, a Sikh Film Festival was held in the city recently with an objective of making their community aware of their spiritual roots.
Organised by a group of Sikhs, the festival took off without any frills with films being screened in the quiet ambience of a gurdwara, followed by langar for the attendees.
It was television actor-turned-filmmaker Mangal Dhillon, who has made over six films of various topics of Sikhism like Khalsa, Prakash To Prakash Tak, etc., who had approached the Maharashtra Sikh Association with the idea of a Sikh Film Festival.
The four-day festival was the first of its kind to be organised in Mumbai and screened four of Dhillon’s films. “We believe that Sikhs are a minority but become a majority when it comes to sacrifices. The community itself is unaware of what Sikhism preaches. In a bid to fill this void, I began researching the various tenets of the faith, and in the past decade made over six films on the history of our community. Four of my films—Khalsa (the life of Guru Granth Sahib), Prakash To Prakash Tak (24 hours in the Golden Temple), Prakash Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the uniqueness of the Guru Granth Sahib) and Gurbani De Kautak (Miracles of the Gurbani) were screened at the festival,” Dhillon said.
The association has written to the presidents of all the Gurdwaras across Mumbai and Navi Mumbai inviting them for the festival. “The first film, Gurubani De Kautak was screened last Friday, the response to which was awe-inspiring. The youth today are unaware of the values that our community stands for and we hope that through festivals like these, they would begin to be interested. We expect that after this festival, similar initiatives will be taken up by other Gurdwaras as well,” said Daljit Singh Bal, president of the association. While Prakash To Prakash Tak and Prakash Sri Guru Granth Sahib are pure documentaries, Khalsa and Gurbani De Kautak are docu-dramas with dramatised versions of historical events or enactments of real-life incidents. “Gurbani De Kautak is about how a Gujarat-based scientist, who is suffering from bone marrow cancer, is cured after his relatives read the “Akhand Path”. Prakash To Prakash Tak shows what happens at the Golden Temple in a day. Most of the visitors at the temple pay their respects and leave within a couple of hours. Not even the seniormost of Sikhs have been inside the temple for an entire day,” Dhillon said. Besides screening his films in the rural villages of Punjab, Dhillon has also shown it to audiences in the US, UK, Canada and Europe.
“Besides these films, I also made Saravanash which is about the drug abuse problem in Punjab and The Inseparables which is about the Sikh and his Turban. These films were issue-centric and context-specific owing to the drug abuse problem ravaging almost 75 per cent of Punjab’s youth and the turban controversy that was raging in France and Canada,” said Dhillon, who plans to show these films to the youth in the city also.