Q&A with filmmaker Sapna Bhavnani in attendance
IMFF 2020 Screening:
April 5th 2020 | Texas Premiere
Screening: 3.45pm - 5.30pm
AFS Cinema, Austin
Member Tickets: $12
Non-Member Tickets: $15
India | Documentary | 2019 | 63 MIN. |Sindhi, English; English Subtitles
This film will be preceded by a short: Dil Se Bol (Q&A with film-maker Tania Romero in attendance)
I was 36 when I realised I was a daughter of a refugee. I remember being at concert in Mumbai and watching some Sufi Fakirs from Sindh perform, I was so blown away, I ran home and googled Sindh for the first time. When I found out Sindhi migration was the largest migration of a culture in history and I being a Sindhi had no idea, I knew it was time to start.
SYNOPSIS (From the Director)
What is Sindh?
In 1947 when India was partitioned, Punjab and Bengal were divided but Sindh was left intact in Pakistan. In the province, it was believed that nothing would change - the Hindus had been a minority for centuries, they were the ones with the wealth and power. However, when the time came, the best they could do was escape with their lives. Hordes of prosperous people became homeless and penniless overnight. A large majority had never left Sindh before. They crossed the new border to settle in unfamiliar lands with unfamiliar food, language and customs, stepping from a zone of sparse rain into monsoon country.
There are lots of books written on Sindh and loads of information online but I did not want my film to be a history lesson. It took me 2 year figure out how I want to tell my story. This moment with my grandma came to mind. I had just started getting inked, and remember covering myself to meet my grandmother for lunch one day. She looked at me and called me old fashioned. I couldn't believe a 70 year old woman was calling me old fashioned. She told me when we first came on this planet we lived in tribes we didn't have borders and governments and countries. We had extended families and all had their own markings. "When I see you I see you are going back to your roots that makes me very happy."
It was evident that ink was going to be the ink I would write their stories with.
My documentary includes many stories - some from India and some from Sindh (which is now in Pakistan) along with mine illustrating their journey on my skin. I aim at inking my skin using an art form from Sindh (Ajrak) and one from Hindustan (Madhubani) to tell the story of a land carried on the shoulders of its people and not rooted in any soil.
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
My ancestors come from a land called Sindh, which was a part of India till 1947. Post which India became independent and split into Pakistan. Sindh remained in Pakistan and the "Hindu" Sindhis were forced either to convert to Islam or leave their homeland. The Sindhis were peace loving people who spent their time singing sufi songs and did not want violence. They left willingly in hordes leaving everything behind. This migration is the largest migration of a culture in history but very few, including Sindhis, are aware of it. In India and worldwide, they had to learn a new language, adapt to new cultures, learn new trades, just to sustain. The lack of a physical "land" has led to the slow death of their culture and language and the new generation has no idea or access to their heritage.
It was important for me to document their journey so that the youth had some information. It took me 2 years to figure out how I wanted to tell this story. My father was born in Shikarpur Sindh in an area called Hajampara (barbers street). The fact that I am a barber in my adult life does not surprise me at all.
After partition he travelled with his family by ship from Karachi to Bombay where they lived in refugee camps. My father did not carry the burden of the past with him. He didn't raise me Hindu or Muslim. Indian or Pakistani or Sindhi. He didn 't raise me boy or girl. I was free to be whatever I wanted. Free of all burdens. He ran a cabaret joint called Blue Nile and I grew up with the sounds of jazz and jiggling thighs instead of Sufi singers.
Bombay was my Sindh and Sindhi Curry my culture. History books explained Partition just like a doctor explains 4th stage cancer. Clinical and cold.
When the govt denied me a visa to visit Sindh the land of my ancestors, I became the land. My legs carry the stories of their journey and my feet the lack of our roots.
no one leaves home
unless home is the mouth of a shark
You only run to the border when you see the whole city running as well
They say revolutions start from home. Home to me is where the legs are. I carry the stories as witness on my legs in a hope that they will never die.
Sapna has naturally assumed poster-child status as a powerful female figure. She traverses mainstream success with just as much ease as she skirts the youth art & culture movement. Ageless, formless and forever metamorphosing, Sapna has recently begin giving her celebrity-hood the voice of an activist.
Just recently, she was awarded the "iBelieve" award by Savvy Magazine" and the "FemEmpowerment" Award by Zee TV for her work with ex sex workers by starting a free hair academy called Pathshala.
Currently Sapna is writing a book "Chapter One;' and travelling the world festival circuit with her debut film Sindhustan which has won the Best Feature Documentary at NYIFF, AIFF, IFFStuttg art, MISAFF, Caleidoscope Boston, Los Angles Motion Picture Festival, MIFF and Official Selection at LAHFF, MAM I, VISAFF, CHALTA PHIRTA DOC FESTIVAL, 50th International Short & Independent Film Festival Dhaka, and Asia Peace Film Festival.
She is currently in post production on her short "My Dog Is Sick;' and working on the screenplay of a feature "Hara Kiri'.
Actor, spoken word artist, hairstylist, writer, director, producer - Sapna embodies it all as a visionary and change-maker. No matter how many times she evicts herself, the public always votes her back in!
The rest, like they say, is herstory.