'Ocean of Pearls' - Journey to Completion

Thoughts about the motivation and commitment of a Sikh Doctor to make a film with a Sikh as a lead role in a major motio...

Back in 2002-03 I remember getting an email from Dr. Sarab Neelam, who wanted to share a documentary on Sikhi that he had made. He wanted me to freely post it on SikhNet and make it available so people could learn more about Sikhi (particularly westerners). Later on after we posted it on SikhNet he told me about his grand vision of making a major motion picture with a Sikh in a lead role. Whenever we spoke he would always talk to me about the need to have Sikhs in films, and how we rarely see Sikhs in any lead movie role. Most of the roles we see Sikhs take in films are based on stereotypes:

  • Taxi Cab Driver (American Film)
  • Silly/Joker Role (Indian Films)
  • Cultural setting with international crowd (The Sikh floating around in the background).

How often do we see a Sikh in any kind major of role? Not often. The last ones I can remember were of Waris Ahluwalia doing a part in a few films (The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Inside Man). There might be more, but you can probably count them on one hand; and most I have seen are minor roles.

Anways, I always thought this was going to be a tough job to do since it would require quite a bit of time, money, commitment and dedication. Over the years he would remind me of his plans and I wondered if he would be able to carry it out.

For the past few years he has been working on making his idea a reality. I've heard little tid-bits here and there about the film, as they did casting calls for actors and also my friend Snatam Kaur telling me about doing some recordings specifically for the film sound track, so it seemed to be moving along!

I just realized that the film was released recently (May?), but since I don't live in any major city I haven't had a chance to see it yet. However, in the mean time I was able to watch the movie trailer and it looked intriguing and professionally done. Hopefully I'll have a chance to watch the full film and see how "Amrit Singh" deals with being a Sikh, as the Chief of Surgery, and the lesson he learns.

Here is a short synopsis of the film:

"As a Sikh man with a full beard and turban, AMRIT SINGH is often the target of racial profiling. But when he sees his dreams of becoming Chief of Surgery at a state-of-the-art transplant center dwindle because of his appearance, Amrit goes against a tradition he's maintained his whole life and cuts his hair. Hiding this decision from his girlfriend and family in Toronto is only the start of a series of compromises Amrit finds himself making as he deals with hospital politics and health care injustices. When his compromises result in the death of a patient, Amrit begins to reexamine the value of the religious traditions he'd turned his back on."

You can learn more about the film at: http://oceanofpearls.com or watch the film trailer below.

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