News Column

Bobby's films pick up prizes ; AWARDS: AFGHAN SIKHS DOCUMENTARY FOLLOWED BY BURMA TRIP

May 8, 2013

YellowBrix

A filmmaker has been presented with two awards for his documentaries about international Sikh culture.

Bobby Singh Bansal, of Syston, has travelled to far-flung destinations to tell the stories of Sikh families and highlight their cultural history.

In 2012, the 44-year-old visited Afghanistan to highlight the dwindling Sikh population, which he said had declined from 60,000 to 1,000.

The film, The Sikhs of Kabul, has been shown around the world at film festivals and focuses on Gudwara Har Rai Sahib, a temple which has become home to a large displaced Sikh population.

Bobby, who spent a week filming in Kabul with a crew from Sikh TV, picked up awards at two ceremonies in Toronto, Canada, in April.

The first was at the Sikh Centennial Annual Gala and the second at the annual Hansra Gala.

He said: The Hansra Gala is equivalent to the Oscars - it's a big event. You get MPs and councillors attending and to get honoured by them is fantastic. It gives you a platform and some recognition and makes you think 'yeah, I'm doing the right thing'.

I love what I do and it's amazing that other people appreciate it too.

Last month, he returned from Burma after shooting a film about an Indian Sikh community which settled in the country about 130 years ago.

He is editing the documentary, The Road to Mandalay - the Burmese Sikhs, and is preparing to present it at film festivals from the end of the month.

The movie features visits to sites such as the 2,600-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda, in Yangon, a pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Bobby said: From the huge success The Sikhs of Kabul has attained, it's been difficult choosing a topic to make into a documentary. So I decided to pick a location which was little visited by foreigners and the media. Bobby said the documentary showed the diverse nature of Sikhs in that part of the world.

He said: Young Sikh children all maintain the tradition of retaining their long hair, unlike in the western world where a majority of Sikhs have become clean shaven.

We were given a most gracious welcome by the members of the community, whose appearances are far from the usual-looking Sikhs we have back in London or India.

Their features are somewhat oriental looking, with their turbans tied up in a round fashion and not pointed at the front as was mine.

The striking feature of their attire is that all the Sikh males wear a lungi or dhoti, it's the national dress of the Burmese, I guess.

It's quite odd to see and compare 6ft tall western Sikhs with the Burmese males, who are much shorter with their dark complexions and all wearing lungis.

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Source: YellowBrix_Entertainment