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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who needs Spiderman when I have Bhai Taru Singh?


bwbwxIAw khwxIAw puq spuq kryin ]
babania kehania put saput karaen ||
The stories of one's ancestors make the children good children.
(Guru Amar Das, Raag Raamkalee, Page 951 of Guru Granth Sahib)

The American writer Muriel Rukeyser once said that the universe is made up, not of atoms, but of stories. This especially holds true for the Sikh universe. Stories or anecdotes from our short but action-packed history provide us with guidance, inspiration and resilience. Who needs fictional super-heroes when the Sikh narrative provides us with so many real-life heroes who did extraordinary things?

For most Sikhs, myself included, these Sikh stories told to us by our parents and grandparents were an essential part of growing up Sikh. However, we're quickly losing this great oral tradition. For a variety of reasons, parents and grandparents aren't telling sakhis like they used to and kids aren't listening to them.

In attempt to transfer our stories to the next generation of Sikhs. the folks at Vismaad have taken on the monumental challenge of bringing our Sikh heroes to the big screen. With their previous productions, Sahibzadey, The Rise Of Khalsa, and Sundri - The Brave Kaur, they have single handedly created the genre of Sikh animation and brought our history to life. While there have been lots of technical challenges and limitations with the films, largely due to budget constraints, no one can question the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of Sukhwinder Singh and his team.

Their latest project deals with another great hero from Sikh history. The story of Bhai Taru Singh is a great example of this courage and faith. Imprisoned by Mughal rulers, Bhai Taru Singh chose to be scalped alive rather than abdicate his faith and cut his hair. His sacrifice is remembered daily by Sikhs around the world in our ardaas (jina Singhan, Singhnian ne khoprian lahaian).

Here's a trailer for the upcoming film:


Unfortunately, most Sikh parents are willing to look past the hypocrisy of buying a pirated (illegal) copy of a Sikh film to teach their kids about Sikh values. As a result, traditional distribution channels (i.e. DVDs) haven't worked for Vismaad. Instead they've relied on private screenings in cities around the world to raise the funds to pay for their films. So there will be 23 screenings of Bhai Taru Singh in 13 cities across the US, Canada and the UK in less than three weeks, starting in late September. A schedule is available on the film's website.

Please try to go out and watch the film. We hope that it lives up to expectations, is widely viewed by Sikhs around the world, and inspires others to make our history relevant to a new generation of Sikhs.

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