Sikh Hollywood Stars Shine, Spin for a Cause

October 30, 2006

Author: Khushwant Singh

Source: Sikh News Network!OpenDocument

Chandigarh: Sikhs are all set to take over Hollywood. Fighting stereotypes and attempting to set their image ‘‘right’’, the Spinning Wheel Film Festival (SWFF), 2006, titled ‘Sikhs in Hollywood - meet the stars’, will give Californians a chance to meet Sikh Hollywood stars on November 18.

Film-maker Gurinder Chadha, actor Waris Ahluwalia, costar in Denzel Washington’s ‘‘The Inside Man’’, Kavi Raz, director and lead of the soon-to-be released ‘‘The Gold Bracelet’’ and actress Namrata Gujral are expected to add glamour to one of the largest diasporic Sikh festivals to be held in the continent.

The festival will not only showcase outstanding Sikh films, featuring a diverse mix of genres, but also bring together filmmakers from across the globe to screen their work with both Sikh and non-Sikh audience, said Bickey Singh, promoter of the festival in Southern California.

As an emerging cinema organisation, SWFF has quickly grown both in size and reputation, and is now well-established as the preeminent Sikh film event in the world, he claimed.

In rural Punjab, young girls would gather around a spinning wheel to spin and weave. The wheel became the focal point of their social lives where they would share their joys and sorrows. Using this as the theme, Torontobased lawyer T Sher Singh and Birinder Singh Ahluwalia started SWFF in 2003 to stop inaccurate portrayal of Sikhs in media, especially in Bollywood. ‘‘There had been mounting concern within the community that Sikhs and their stories were being inaccurately depicted in popular films,’’ T Sher Singh told TOI.

Post-9/11, Sikh-Americans realised that the general populace, had difficulty in distinguishing the Sikh turban from the Arabs’. Recognising that it was time that Sikh stories were told accurately, they zeroed in on the need to raise the quality of the content within popular and educational media, claimed T Sher Singh.‘‘Our ultimate goal is to take SWFF back to India where it truly belongs and for a larger community of Indians to benefit from it,” said Bickey Singh.