By Balkaran Singh
In the wake of recent Canadian federal election, and its stuttering debate about place for religious garb in Canadian formality and “culture”, this movie takes on the very current issue of disparity between perceptions of the discriminated, and assumptions of, I should say, the softer-bigot.
Told in twin-perspective, the story begins with Roop Singh (Rup Magon), a young turbaned South Asian Sikh man, feeling culturally ostracised, in Montreal’s public spaces – from looks from strangers in a restaurant to hostile political speeches in media, he feels mocked and unwelcome despite being born and raised in the city. On the other hand, Victor Arnaud (Benjamin Meneghini), a white Quebecois man, finds himself agreeing with the same preservationist political outburst in the media, his beliefs hardening with his every interaction with non-whites – from making assumptions about his taxi driver to losing a business contract to a more “ethnically diverse” candidate.
Our leads’ paths converge while having lunch at a sushi restaurant, and through happenstance, both Roop and Victor are brought to the realization of fallacy of their assumptions about the other’s culture or opinion.
It is an unassuming film, heavier on the message than directorial art – Satinder Kassoana presents light at the end of beaten path, and manages it competently. There are no frills in this one. The dialogue flows fine, and its delivery is effortless as well. Both the main actors convey a talented performance, and the supporting cast fits like a glove with multicultural fingers.
There is a message in it for the both Roop and Victor, and there is one for the audience as well. The message is simple and crisp: discrimination and cultural assumptions are erroneous. A message we’ve certainly heard a few times in the recent past, but yet a message a lot of people still need to recognize and understand.
Besides consulting in the cultural, creative and communication spheres, Balkaran engages in social-justice and political drives. And writes. Among other things.