EXCLUSIVE: Sadda Haq Movie Review by Navdeep Kaur

In most contemporary movies, Sikhs and Punjabis are the center of jokes. Movies coming out of the Punjabi Film Industry follow the trend as well. You will often see a Punjabi man characterized as the disgusting guy with an overgrowth of facial hair, carelessly wrapped turban, a bottle of homemade liquor hidden in his dirt-covered kurta, and a constant need to talk loudly. The Punjabi woman is the one decked out in a heavily embroidered salwaar kameez, long braid in hand, loudly saying things like “party-sharty,” “food-faad,” “dance-vance.” You get the picture.

We laugh, holding our stomachs, memorizing the comedy so we can repeat it. This is perhaps the Punjabi culture we are encouraged to observe and then replicate. Our true heritage is not represented in modern media because that heritage has the power to awaken sleeping lions. When we talk about the history of Punjab, it is nearly impossible to segregate it from Sikh history because they are intertwined like body and soul. It has taken nearly two decades for someone to talk about the true history of Punjab after 1984 and that movie has been banned by the Punjab government—which has only encouraged a larger, worldwide audience.

Sadda Haq (Our Right) is a revolutionary movie that focuses on the story of a fictional character, Kartar Singh Tara, imprisoned and labeled as a “terrorist.” Sharon Gill, a Canadian student, travels to Punjab to conduct research for her PhD thesis, “Minorities at War.” Her research allows her the opportunity to meet Kartar Singh in prison and learn his life story. Along with Sharon, the audience gets a chance to witness the various circumstances that gave birth to the “terrorists” that wreaked havoc in Punjab in the 1990s. Sadda Haq provides insight into a corrupt governmental system, where the protectors of the people are the ones who deliver inhumane torture.

For those who are not familiar with the history of bloodshed in Punjab, this movie will take you through it from a perspective that has been suppressed for several decades. If you are Sikh, you will understand why we pray in every gurdwara for the well-being and release of Sikh prisoners on a regular basis. The non-Indians will go home knowing why so many Sikhs and other minorities from the world over are seeking shelter in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and all other countries that are not their homelands. Sadda Haq unveils the true nature of the world’s largest democracy on a very small scale.

While the overall nature of the movie is quite intense, the audience is eased into it with a romantic opening. Though seamless, the music seemed to have allowed me enough time to step out of the story and simply reflect for a few moments—I did not go home humming any of the tunes, which I always do when I hear something unique, catchy, or ingenious. But that’s not a drawback to the film as a whole. The music is okay and falls into the backdrop because the story itself commands complete attention. Kuljinder Singh Sidhu, producer and lead actor, is definitely the star of the movie—the other actors also execute satisfactorily, though there are slight moments of over and underacting by some novices. Sidhu, however, gives a flawless performance; his eyes, his demeanor, and his speech are captivating to a degree that one truly begins to feel the weight of the story. Humor is interjected in a very tasteful manner and counters the mainstream comedy circus depiction of the Sikh-Punjabi culture. Caution, take a few tissues with you because I know a lot of people in the theater shed tears during certain scenes.

Some people say, “If you have young children, don’t take them with you because of graphic scenes.” I say, take them. That is the only way for them to understand where their roots really lie and what their responsibilities are towards the Sikh community. The message of Sadda Haq is exactly that; find out what your history is and use contemporary knowledge to amend past wrongs and regain stolen rights. The truth is that we are responsible for passing on our own history; the sooner parents begin this process, the better it will be for their children as they try to grow up in multicultural settings throughout the world.

Sadda Haq is a must watch for everybody, especially Sikhs. The movie does not take any religious or political sides; it simply shows the truth behind the turmoil of late twentieth century Punjab. Perhaps you will leave re-defining the word terrorist or reorganizing your life’s priorities to make room for small acts that will help us in retrieving our rights to justice.

Navdeep Kaur is a Sikh American writer currently obtaining her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from San Jose State University.  More of her work can be viewed at http://aarsi-reflections.blogspot.com/.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I think the reason behind the ban of this movie in Punjab is because it shows the Punjab/Indian government in a negative light. However, we have to remember that this is not the first movie coming out of the Indian movie industry that shows the extreme corruption in the entire democratic system there.

  2. eh kehra navi gall hai es desh vich haq di mang ate mang karan valeya di awaz noo hamesha hi dabaya geya hai ese lai ta: SARE JAHA SE ACHHA HINDUSITAN HAMARA

  3. The ban is just another example of the Hindu Right Wing suppressing the voice of the minorities.

    The ban also illustrates the inner insecurity of the Indian Govt on the issue of Human Rights.

    India is not the Holy Cow it projects itself to be on international forums and has a lot to explain on Human Right issues. After all, why does India not allow Amnesty International to visit the country for their independent investigation ?

  4. Are you guys kidding everyone? What is about hindu right wing and sikhism here? If you really know the history, do you not realise that hinduism and sikhism are not different?

    Do you not realise that some people like you are trying to make the two faiths appear different and create a rift? What do you want? Terrorism in Punjab again?

    Are you telling me that the Punjab terrorism was about fight against corruption? Bullshit. Some people might have been inspired or brainwashed using the idea but is that the whole of it? Is it that simple?

    At least don’t kid yourselves.

    • kaushik, sikhisme and hindusime are two different religions. Where we the sikhs believe in One God, hindus believe in many forms of god and so on manny differences. And what about history, where in once in history has been told that sikhs and hindus are the same.

      This film shows the true picture what was really happening during that time. And the only one who killed innocent people were black cats and government. The media did not portray the real image and is still failing doing that.

      Dinesh Sood, co-producer of this movie is a hindu, and he has admitted that alot of people, especially hindus have another image of that time.
      /watch?v=L0pup2JO4ns
      /watch?v=62xjkaOeNNE

      The reason the film has been banned, is that this movie shows the true colours of the indian government.

      • Its people like 070 who forget that we are first humans, then Indians and then Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. If a movie is against its own country or says bad things about its own countrymen, then I think the ban is justified. If a movie promotes setting up of a separate country, then the ban is justified. If a movie believes than one religion is better than other, then the ban is justified. But since I have not seen this movie, and will not like to see it, I won’t comment on this movie. Btw religion is just a personal preference – you like pink, I like blue. You like to put a cap, I like to put a turban. You like to go to Mosque, I visit Gurudwara. Btw, if you are a Sikh, which I seriously doubt, then you must know that there are 10 Sikh gurus and all are worshiped equally. Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in a Hindu family. So how can you say that both religions are different? Who are you to comment on this when Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji never said anything about Hinduism or Islam. More than 50% of policemen, politicians in Punjab state are Sikhs and if police and system are corrupt, then it also includes Sikhs. But since a corrupt person has no religion, I will not call them Sikh. Just putting a turban does not make you a real Sikh. You have to be Khalis – from body, from soul. Waheguru ji da khalsa, waheguru ji di fateh.

        • This movie is nothing about religion, it’s all about how govt suppressed the minorities. As you can see what is happening with sikhs in delhi right now?
          If you are not a sikh, and if you are sikh, let me give you a broad picture of sikhism. Khalsa was started by our tenth guru sahib and he said “Sab sikhan ko hukam hai guru manyo granth” which means our guru is sri guru granth sahib ji which has teachings of all our gurus and muslim pirs as well. We believe in one god, which is humanity. Reason 1984 happened was because punjab’s govt. was killing innocent sikhs in encounters and some people opposed those killings. and then they were killed by indian govt. I know that it created more problems, but it was reasonable for any person to stand against injustice. Your wife, mother, sister gets gang raped infront of your eyes. They ask your father to get sexually involved with your sister and your wife and your whole family has to watch it, i guess you would watch it and will still say I am an indian and i should serve my country by watching my dad having physical relation with my wife and sister. Well good that you didn’t suffer, ask them who did and how badly they want to die because of all that happened to them and no case was reported against the guilty. They were roaming free in 1984 and they are roaming free in 2013. Ask them who’s 25 members of family were killed on same day and none got the justice. Ask them, who were gang raped and not one case was filed. 1 gang rape in 2013 and whole india was protesting, where was india when thousands of sikh women were gang raped infront of their kids? I am still a proud indian because its my mother land. My brothers are in army and I am still proud of them because they are serving their country.
          It’s all about minorities, and nothing else. India is a multicultural country, and we all expect same rights. When they deny rights to one particular community that’s when people fire up.
          I highly recommend you guys to watch the movie instead of criticizing it without knowing the main point of it.

      • Actually, outwardly it may seem that Hindus believe in many gods but Sikhism and Hinduism follow a similar philosophy of karma and bhakti, and a lot of theistic beliefs of Sikhism stem from Upanishadic ideas. And not to mention the fact that our word for the Lord, “Hari”/”Har” has Hindu origins too. The fact is that Sikhism began as a much simplified form of Hinduism, but has evolved as separate religion, but with distinctively Hindu philosophy.

    • Dear Kaushik, Namaskar.

      You do not go by any thing which is shown in movie. Just read this book. The Sikhs in History, by Dr. Sangat Singh. This person is a retired from Ministry of Defense and has served many responsible positions in the central government. This book is available from any big shop of SGPC in any historical sikh gurdwara in India. Please read and then share your comments.

      Wahehuru ji ka khalsa
      Waheguru Ji ki fateh.

    • It wasn’t terrorism. Real meaning of terrorism is to kill other communities, which other communities were killed? It started in punjab and it finished in punjab.
      Terrorism is when punajb started it and whole country had to suffer, there were bomb blasts and other communities were killed too.
      The whole point was to stop the fake killings and suppressing of minorities, having same rights as others have. Saving own religion and lives of our own children. Nobody got the big picture of what happened in villages of punjab, it was all against those who were burning gurudwaras and saroop of guru granth sahib ji, raping women infront of their families. It was against the injustice.
      Punjab politicians went against them to get the vote bank, they started doing politics on these sensitive topics. Sikhs were killing sikhs, drug abusing, raping, that is what THOSE SO CALLED TERRORISTS stood against. I think it was for goodwill of punjab and it’s future, it was necessary for that time period.
      Before you make some judgement after watching news channels which are suppose to call minorities terrorists, please kindly listen to minorities too. Nobody else can tell you what happened with them other than the ones who actually suffered.

      And about the religion difference, we were made different by guru gobind singh ji after he originated Khalsa.

  5. Gurfateh!!

    A must watch movie for every Sikh. Reflects the true color of Indian government and Punjab Government at that time. Its just 1% the movie has been shown, still much is left to show the real color of police, bureaucracy and government funded hooliganism. e.g. kale kache wale gang promoted by punjab police to put fear in mind of people and distract their attention from true persons fighting for the Punjab cause. operation woodrose, shuddi karan much more.

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