Kids Corner


Kultars Mime:
A Play about The 1984 Pogroms





Even though it happened a decade before she was born, Hopkinton (Massachussetts, USA) resident Mehr Kaur has known the story of the 1984 pogroms against Sikhs in the Indian capital of New Delhi and across the country in 40 other cities following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, since she was a child.

As a Sikh herself, not only is it a piece of her family’s history, but her father, Sarbpreet Singh, wrote an acclaimed poem about the event called “Kultar’s Mime.”

A writer, commentator and playwright, Sarbpreet Singh was selected by The Boston Globe as one of the finalists in 2012 for “Bostonian of the Year,’’ in recognition of his interfaith work representing the Sikh community.

So when Mehr Kaur’s nascent theater company, Two Paths Productions, was contemplating its first project, the idea came to her to adapt her father’s poem for the stage.

After a year of work getting the fledgling theater company off the ground, Meher and her three cofounders, all friends from Hopkinton High School, will see their work performed Friday evening (June 28, 2013) at their alma mater.

They trace the genesis of Two Paths Productions to a trip they all took to Scotland as members of Hopkinton High’s drama group. There, they attended the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and witnessed a range of dramatic works not only performed but produced and managed by people barely older than themselves.

“Because there aren’t that many opportunities to pursue theater here in Hopkinton, we decided that we wanted to start a student film and theater project that would run summers only, when we were home from college,” Meher said.

Although she has spent the past nine months as a freshman at Smith College, Meher continued thinking about the theater company and writing a script based on her father’s poem. The group of founders set up a Facebook page and posted fliers around town; when Meher was home in March, they held auditions. Eventually, five actors, all 17 or 18 years old, were chosen to play the parts.

Writing the play was an interesting creative exercise, Meher explained.

“At college, I’m studying theater, so I’ve been reading a lot of plays. In general I consider myself more of a director than writer, but this poem lent itself easily to writing a script,’’ she said, “The text was quite simple to adapt into a play because as a poem, it already incorporates a lot of different voices.”

Even though the play is about children and their perspective on the days of violence that prevailed in Delhi during that siege, Mehr stresses that the violent imagery and the political context of the events portrayed make it probably inappropriate for a young audience. However, she strongly hopes teenagers and adults will see the single performance, both because she is proud of her new production company and because she considers it a story that needs to be understood more widely.

“Even though I was not alive when this tragedy happened, and I’ve lived in America my whole life, I was raised to be well educated about these events,” she said. “I’ve always attended Sikh camps and retreats and seminars, and my parents always encouraged me to be an activist and to take part in the quest for justice. But overall, there’s often kind of a gap in knowledge between my generation and those who were alive and living in India when this happened.”

Like Kaur, cofounder Leah Raczynski was raised to understand the recent history of her Sikh heritage, so she was aware of the events of 1984 but had not known the story in depth until she read the poem, she said. Meher invited her to join forces and serve as assistant director, but after another actor had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, Raczynski became a cast member as well.

“I love to act, but I’d never done anything this serious before,” Raczynski said.

The other responsibility Raczynski took on was that of teaching the rest of the cast members, none of whom came from a Sikh background, to understand the story’s historical and cultural context.

“I didn’t know how much I’d need to tell them, so I started off with sort of a Reader’s Digest version of Indian history,” she said. “It’s not something people who come to see the show will necessarily need to know, because the themes are universal and we’ll have a summary of the events in our program notes. But I thought it was important for the actors to know as much as possible about it.”

The next project for Two Paths Productions is a film they hope to produce this summer, having just finished the script. Raczynski, who will attend Boston University in the fall, is composing the score.


Tickets to the 7 p.m. show Friday, June 28, 2013, at Hopkinton High School are free, and may be reserved by CLICKING here.

For more information, contact

[Courtesy: The Boston Globe. Edited for]

June 27, 2013



Conversation about this article

1: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), June 28, 2013, 1:08 PM.

Sikh Sangat in Massachusetts is very fortunate to have Sarbpreet ji in its midst. He is making a huge impact on our Khalsa School with his kirtan and history classes. His knowledge and command of English/Punjabi languages to deliver the message across is unparalleled. Keep it coming, Sarbpreet ji!

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A Play about The 1984 Pogroms"

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