American Sikh – the animated short film puts spotlight on kindness and resilience


The short film chronicles the struggles Sikhs faced in the US in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks and much more

Our Bureau

New York, NY

The true story of Vishavjit Singh, a Sikh born in America, who, after a lifetime of violence, self-doubt, and bigotry, finds acceptance in a superhero costume – an American Sikh “superhero” is an animated short film, with Michelin-star chef and filmmaker Vikas Khanna and Oscar-winner Guneet Monga as executive co-producers. The film puts the spotlight on inclusivity, kindness, resilience and acceptance through the real-life story of its protagonist.

The film is directed by Ryan Westra with a run time of just under 10 minutes that tells the real-life story of US-born, turban-clad Sikh Vishavjit Singh.

“I always saw the superheroes in Sikhs,” Khanna said as he hosted a special screening of the film at his residence.  “Sikhs were always superheroes. They have been the protectors of our daughters, mothers,” Amritsar-born Khanna said, adding that he had always found shelter, food, love, care and a sense of belonging in gurdwaras.

“So for me to be associated with this (film) was very, very clear,” Khanna said. “It takes guts and courage to stand up and to fight evil and hate with so much compassion and love,” he said.  

“India celebrates diversity like no one else,” Khanna said, adding that he aims to take this story about Sikhs to a much larger audience. “We have to tell people who we are – it could be through restaurants, books, TV, documentaries, movies.”       

The makers of the film are on a journey to get ‘American Sikh’ shortlisted for Best Animated Short at the Oscars next year. Later this month, the film will be screened at the Asia Society and at the Sikh International Film Festival in the city.

The short film also chronicles the struggles Sikhs faced in the US in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, being abused and attacked for wearing turbans and being called names such as ‘Terrorist’ and ‘Osama bin Laden’.        

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