We know Vic Sarin’s achievements, his Genie, Gemini and Emmy nominations and awards among others. Here, Vic, one of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, talks to Almas Meherally about choices, scripts and inspiration.
Q: You’ve made some really incredible films. Could you tell us what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
A: My father managed a movie theatre for a time in Srinagar – Kashmir (India). Staying at the top of a movie theatre, where in the back was the attic/roof of the theatre, I managed to carve a small hole in the ceiling to watch movies. Even though I was only able to see them upside down – I was hooked on Cinema. I just wanted to be a part of this new found magic, at any cost. Fortunately my parents never made any demands and I was allowed to follow my chosen love from the age of 16.
Q: How did the film Murder Unveiled come about and why did you choose the life of Jassi Sidhu and honour killing as a subject?
A: CBC and Force Four asked me if I would take on this project. Even though I left India at a young age, but the feel of India never left me. Having some understanding of the two worlds – India and Canada, I felt at home with the story. Jassi is the film – a woman caught between the values of two worlds and therefore the ultimate sacrifice for love, I felt is strong human statement right down my alley. No sacrifice is enough for love – which to me is one’s breath.
Q: Your film Partition touches a raw spot in the history of India and Pakistan and was based on a true story of a couple. Could you tell us a little about their life and your connection?
A: I witnessed their story while growing up in Srinagar. Two people – a Sikh man and a Muslim woman – very much in love, gave their lives by drowning in the local river dam. On their first attempt, the man got washed ashore with swell of the water and when he saw the dead body of his lover floating in the distance, he went back into the water a second time and died. He did not want to be separated from her even in death. This story moved me immensely and stayed with me ever since. Such stories have been there from the time of the partition of India too. Setting my love story against that time, I felt, was the right thing to do as partition is one of the least unknown incidents of that magnitude in the 20th century. The film served two purposes.
Q: Which of your films is most special to you?
A: I have been very fortunate to be able to do films, which I wanted to do. Consequently every film is special. Each and every film opens a new door and becomes a part of your life. I cherish the journey of each film.
Q: Is there a story you’re waiting to tell?
A: There are many but we all have limited time. At the moment, I am co-writing a couple of screenplays, which I hope will go to the cameras ASAP. Both stories, true to my liking, deal with humanity and celebrates the human spirit.
Q: Something you would like fans in Vancouver to know about you and your films?
A: I don’t shy away from the honesty of life. Honesty is more satisfying even if it hurts. Yes – ultimately we are all part of this human cycle but within that we should offer hope and love. Most of my films tend to go that way. I hope this will continue with me till… it is no more.