Kids Corner


Rooted Vision





He loves maneuvering his way through a sea of colourful turbans and the fact that everyone is an ‘uncle ji' or ‘aunty ji'.

Never mind the heat, the illness and other cruelties of geography when straight out of New York and placed in the middle of Punjab, documentary film-maker Angad Singh's teething troubles with the region were worth every step he took and every effort he made.

Behind all the cultural escapades, the nineteen-year-old student of Columbia University has a sense of purpose about things.

"I am here to make a documentary as part of my project Sustain Punjab. Though we haven't officially named the documentary, it's an endeavour to spread awareness about Punjab and the problems it faces," shares the student of Sustainable Development and Political Awareness.

"We will document our journey throughout Punjab along with a couple of interviews but it will be focused on the youth and their struggle. Through this we hope to connect university students."

Although the 60 to 90 minute feature film is yet to reach its final stages, there is a lot at the planning stages.

"We will be exploiting all the media available to publicise it, including the film festivals, the broadcast television in the States and the Internet." He adds, "I have been making documentary films since the age of 13. My earlier three films were mainly based on the diversity in the United States."

Post his first product, Roots and Wings, his second film (Ex)changed brought forth recognition for Best Documentary at the International Family Film Festival.

As a second generation Sikh-American, there was a swarm of issues he faced while growing up, including "struggling to keep his Sikh identity alive."

He adds: "They would always ask me questions about my turban and background, and some of them were ignorant to the point of becoming intolerant."

A deep connect with the roots brings him back and he is addressing issues he always wanted to.

"This region and our religion has had its share of challenges; the youth of Punjab currently face the ecological and economic crisis. We hope to inspire a change."

Joining him in the endeavour is Chris Canales, 21, student of Sustainable Development at the Columbia University.

It's his first time, let alone Punjab, but in Asia. Given the myriad flavours of the land, there's just so much to soak in every day.

"I tried explaining things back to my parents and they had a problem understanding." He laughs, "I had never really met a Sikh until I met Angad, who stayed just a few blocks away at the campus and being a senior, I was in-charge of him."

The rest is proverbial history and the duo has everything chalked out for the next four weeks of their stay in the region.

"We are going to visit the Punjab Agriculture University, then meet Bhai Balbir Singh of Seechewal and go to Kali Bein. Then there's Punjabi University at Patiala. We have already been staying at Akal Academy, Baru Sahib, a place I really liked and I'd definitely like to visit again," he explains, giving a low-down of the one-and-a-half month of the total duration of their visit.

In between the business of, and doing workshops at these places, there have been many cultural experiences.

He laughs again as he says: "After falling ill once, I'm game for trying the dhaba food once more, especially since now my system has adapted to the local flavours."

Especially the sweet and spicy things, the street foods that we are renowned for!

"I had this tamarind sauce and every time we have a meal, I'm hoping it's on the menu."

Print journalism gave way to broadcast and documentary films were waiting to happen.

"I was already aware of Punjab, especially since the past few years, and some events put the spotlight on the community."

As for the first-hand experience, "On our way to some place, the driver played a Punjabi song by Dr. Zeus. He must have played it like seven times. We finally decided to fit it in somewhere at the end of the documentary."


For more info on Project Sustain Punjab, please CLICK here.


[Courtesy: Tribune. Edited for]

June 28, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Jitender Singh (Jamshedpur, India), June 28, 2013, 10:04 AM.

I am a social worker, employed by Tata Motors. Look forward to this film.

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