More Bollywood and Sikhs: Patiala House

This time, Bollywood actually picked an interesting lens through which to depict life in a Punjabi-Sikh household. An southhall_gurdwara.jpgupcoming movie, Patiala House, is a look at cross-generation cultural assimilation in Southall.

At heart, says Nikhil, Patiala House is a father-son story. Like Billy Eliott where the father is a coal miner but the son wants to be a dancer. In my film, Rishi Kapoor feels his dreams as a Sikh immigrant in England are being destroyed by his son. But the son Akshay Kumar has his own dreams to pursue. [TOI]

How we view our 2 pronged identity of Punjabi-Sikhism, and how each is depicted by outside communities such as Bollywood is often, understandably and rightfully, a controversial issue. But Patiala House seems only superficially concerned, if at all, with the Sikh identity.

The filmmakers met with Sikh elders at the Southhall Gurdwara, where cameras are ordinarily not allowed, to talk about the ideas behind the film. The film partly takes place during Southhall’s 1979 race riots, which many of the elders had lived through.

Says Nikhil, They just threw open the doors of the Gurdwara and offered to help in every way to make Patiala House authentic. Many of the Sikh elders at the Gurdwara had lived through the infamous Southall racial riots of 1979 where my film is partially set. When I narrated my theme to them they had tears in their eyes. Patiala House is like old wounds being re-opened for them. But its a story that must be told, says Advani. [TOI]

The movie was partly inspired by the Malhotra family of Malabar Hill in Mumbai.

Nikhil Advani is reportedly borrowing a leaf out a South Mumbai familys life and basing his film Patiala House on them. The family is apparently the Malhotras of Malabar Hill who, for three generations, have been living together. The head patriarch Malhotra still rules. All additions to the family are put in adjoining buildings and this is one of the largest joint families in India. Important decisions are taken by the senior Malhotra and everyone else adheres to it. [link]

I suppose it should be flattering that Bollywood so consistently uses the Punjabi-Sikh community as a backdrop for its plots. But instead it makes me squirm and fear stereotypes. When will Bollywood lose its obsession with Punjabi-Sikhs, and start using other regions as cultural backdrops, so we can share our squeamishness?


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15 Responses to “More Bollywood and Sikhs: Patiala House”

  1. singh says:

    Answer: When it gets tired of us…

  2. singh says:

    Answer: When it gets tired of us…

  3. Tajinder says:

    Q: "When will Bollywood lose its obsession with Punjabi-Sikhs, and start using other regions as cultural backdrops, so we can share our squeamishness?"

    A: When there is no money left to be made. Bollywood is not a charity it is a business similar to Hollywood full of anti-religious, low moral values, people with no pride in their ethnic, religious or national backgrounds. The Sikh community should take full advantage of this, because it caters to over 1Billion people, like moths to a light bulb. Rather then worry about stereo types, and other things which will fade away when Bollywood's attention moves away from our community. We should be worried about the message of SGGS which can be sent through this media giant Bollywood to the masses.

  4. Tajinder says:

    Q: "When will Bollywood lose its obsession with Punjabi-Sikhs, and start using other regions as cultural backdrops, so we can share our squeamishness?"

    A: When there is no money left to be made. Bollywood is not a charity it is a business similar to Hollywood full of anti-religious, low moral values, people with no pride in their ethnic, religious or national backgrounds. The Sikh community should take full advantage of this, because it caters to over 1Billion people, like moths to a light bulb. Rather then worry about stereo types, and other things which will fade away when Bollywood's attention moves away from our community. We should be worried about the message of SGGS which can be sent through this media giant Bollywood to the masses.

  5. Harinder says:

    Remember no one makes movies on dead people.
    Movies like sports are amongst the Homo -sapiens defining properties and
    are a Sine qua non of vibrancy of a community

  6. Harinder says:

    Remember no one makes movies on dead people.
    Movies like sports are amongst the Homo -sapiens defining properties and
    are a Sine qua non of vibrancy of a community

  7. Pablo says:

    I am sick and tired of Indian filmmakers trying to make movies about the Indian diaspora. Why don't you try making realistic movies set in your own country.

  8. Pablo says:

    I am sick and tired of Indian filmmakers trying to make movies about the Indian diaspora. Why don't you try making realistic movies set in your own country.

  9. areapal says:

    bollywood film makers are comfort with punjabi characters.

  10. areapal says:

    bollywood film makers are comfort with punjabi characters.

  11. gursharan kaur says:

    why in bollywood films they always try to show sikh as a funny way . they should stop nw we ca't bear this any more. sikhs been always given their lives for india.. why they not showing their bravery in their films……………

  12. […] been an area of discontent with Punjabis and Sikhs being portrayed as hypermasculine and other stereotypical roles [read Navdeeps piece, Media and the Sikhs]. While many applaud the increased presence of Sikh […]

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