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Sikhs calling from Ground Zero

November 15, 2011 05:52:22 PM IST
Glamsham Editorial
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The first Bollywood film to be given permission to shoot at Ground Zero is based on Sikhs in the US.

In a first attempt, a Bollywood unit has been given permission to shoot at Ground Zero in New York, the site of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Centre attacks. US authorities were skeptical about allowing shooting near the site. It took Puneet Issar, who directed I AM SINGH, a year to convince them.

view I AM SINGH stills
view I AM SINGH stills

"Yes, we are allowed to shoot there now," confirms Issar, whose film is based on the issue of mistaken identity of Sikhs in America. They are still perceived as Arabs, even after so many years since 9/11, he says, adding, It's been two years now and about 20% of the film is still left, which is to be shot on the site where the twin towers stood.

Puneet says, "It's an achievement as they were adamant on not giving permission. Eighty per cent of the film is shot in America. We kept putting up our case to the concerned department. Finally, the authorities gave their nod."

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A source from the unit said convincing American authorities wasn't easy, as they thought the film would portray a negative image of the country. Even the American crew hired for the project was apprehensive. They needed clarification as to what we were making, Puneet tells us, "I'm hoping for things to pass off peacefully. National sentiments on the subject are still strong. Besides New York, shooting will also take place in San Francisco and Los Angeles."

Talking about the story, Puneet says, "It's based on real life incidents, on how the life of Sikhs changed post 9/11. It's very painful to hear that many of them had to change their identities. The turban is a symbol of pride, but because of mistaken identity, Sikhs are facing the dilemma of converting to being clean shaven. My movie has a strong message that humanity is above everything. It says that Sikhs shouldn't be mistaken for Arabs."


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