Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sikhsim: a Spike Lee joint

Just got word that in Spike Lee's new film INSIDE MAN there is a Sikh actor who plays a Sikh bank hostage, and it provides a brief but potent glimpse into what Sikhs face currently. I really need to see this movie. I had heard that this was the most un-Spike Lee Spike Lee movie to come out, in that it was more about Hollywood action than social issues, but perhaps he was able to slip in a little social relevance into the mix.

Reviews of Waris Singh Ahluwalia in new film "Inside Man"


One of the bank's hostages is Vikram (the excellent Waris Ahluwalia),
a young Sikh whom the robbers release early with a message tied
around his neck. The NYPD officers on the scene assume he's Arab and
that the message is a bomb. They rough him up, then swipe his turban.
When Frazier and Mitchell interrogate him later in a booth at a
diner, Vikram refuses to discuss the heist until his turban is
returned, then condemns his harassment. When he's done, Washington
says, ''But I bet you can still get a cab." In this single moment,
which is more vivid than almost all of ''Crash," we see the sad
modern hierarchy of American bigotry.

As one might expect from the director of "25th Hour" and "Do the
Right Thing," Lee also takes time to explore the cultural landscape
of post-Sept. 11, 2001, New York. When a young Sikh - played with the
perfect level of exasperation by Waris Ahluwalia - is released from
among the hostages into the street, the cops worry less about his
safety than about the possibility he is of Arab descent.

And one of the hostages, tossed by his captors into the street to
deliver a message to police, immediately becomes a suspect by virtue
of the turban on his head.

"He's an Arab!" one SWAT officer yells out in fear.

"I'm a Sikh," he explains.

Finding out what's the difference -- and doing so with vibrant
dialogue and unsettling humor -- is what makes this a Spike Lee Joint
after all.GO!

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