Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reviews of Dastaar, Warrior Saints trailer and Langar Seva

Some of you may know that I have long been a regular visitor to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) Message Boards ( To my surprise, this week Chris 435, one of the most longstanding and well-respected contributors to the boards, posted reviews of my documentaries on Sikhism. I had forgotten that I had sent him a DVD months ago - but I knew that he had a longstanding affinity for docs so I wanted to get his feedback. Here it is:

"Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity (2004 directed by Kevin Lee), Langer Seva (2005 directed by Kevin Lee), and Warrior Saints(2005 directed by Kevin Lee) are all concerned with Sikhism. I would imagine that few people in the United States actually know any Sikhs, but I'm not one of them. There are two Indian restaurants in the city where I live. The one I prefer serves beef, which prompted me to ask the woman who runs it if she and her family were Sikhs. It turns out that they are. They come from the Punjab region near the Golden Temple. This explains, somewhat, why an Indian friend of mine prefers the other restaurant--it's closer to the cuisine he's used to ("just like mom used to make it," he says). I preface this because my favorite of these three films, "Langer Seva," concerns itself partly with food. There is a variety of food being prepared in this film, and every so often I would spot a dish that I know. The film depicts the preparation of "blessed" food for all comers in honor of The Guru, but it's really a vehicle for Lee to question his own methods of filmmaking. He's uncomfortable with an aesthetic version of quantum mechanics: the act of observing changes the conditions of what is observed. Lee is also at the mercy of his guide, who he suggests is the REAL director of his film. He chooses to forego the food all around him, which is a shame. There were some good eats at that festival. "Dastaar" is closer to home: a depiction of the Sikh experience in New York after 9/11. It doesn't cast a favorable light on the toleration of Americans, nor of their general education, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who lives here. Ignorance, it seems, is only slightly less common in the universe than hydrogen. Alas. "Warrior Saints" makes use of a lot of the material from the other two films and tends to recap their main points--but fills it out with some background information on Sikhism. The main attraction of this film--apart from the prospect of a much longer, more in depth film down the road--is the voice it gives to Sikh women."

Thanks Chris! Hope I can send more your way in the near future.

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