Musafer Trailer

About Musafer

Musafer (Travellers) - Sikhi is Travelling is a digital, 4:3 format independent documentary film that has been shot in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Delhi and San Francisco, between 2003 and 2010. The 65-minute film portrays the interconnected lives of a younger generation of diasporic Sikhs by giving emphasis to their artistic expressions and in-depth conversations about the meaning of Sikhi in times of political upheaval and social uncertainty (Sep. 11, turban ban in France). Musafer does not attempt to portray the Sikh tradition in its multifaceted forms, but instead sheds a light on the inner and outer journeys of particular individuals, their homing desires, as well as their boundary crossing endeavors.

Über Musafer (German)

Musafer (Reisende) ist ein unabhängiger internationaler Dokumentarfilm, der im Zeitraum von 2003 bis 2010 produziert wurde. Die beiden Regisseure begleiten vier junge Sikhs in Europa (Frankfurt, Köln, Heidelberg, London und Paris), den USA und Indien auf ihren Reisen durch das Leben. Der etwa 65 minütige Film präsentiert persönliche Einblicke in die Lebenswelt der Protagonisten und porträtiert, wie sie mit persönlichen und gesellschaftlichen Herausforderungen umgehen und diese reflektieren. Die Rolle von Migration sowie Religion und Musik als grenzüberschreitende und identitätsstiftende Facetten finden dabei besondere Beachtung.

Der Film zeigt transnationale Verbindungen auf, ohne die jeweiligen lokalen Besonderheiten zu vernachlässigen. Die Protagonisten reflektieren ausgehend von ihrer persönlichen Situation über ein breites Spektrum an Themen: die Magie von Musik, die Rolle von Spiritualität und den religiösen Schulstätten (Gurdwara), die Herausforderungen von Jugendlichen im Alltag, die veränderte Wahrnehmung von Sikhs seit dem 11. September, die Erfahrungen als Asylbewerber oder das Kopftuchverbot in Frankreich.

Die Filmemacher
Die aus Deutschland stammenden Filmemacher Dr. Michael Nijhawan und Khushwant Singh sind Sozialanthropologen. Musafer ist ihr Debütfilm. Beide verbindet eine langjährige Freundschaft und das Interesse an Migration, Religion und Musik. M. Nijhawan ist Professor für Soziologie an der York University in Toronto. K. Singh arbeitet in der Internationalen Zusammenarbeit und ist Mitglied im Frankfurter Rat der Religionen.

Musafer Album

Video feed-back Premiere 17.06.2010 in Lund, Sweden

Video feed-back Premiere 10.11.2009 in Frankfurt, Germany

Video feed-back Premiere 09.11.2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark

Friday, November 13, 2009

Background Information

Musafer was shot in intermitted phases, in-between 2003 and February 2010. The project originated in Frankfurt/Main, where we both have been engaged in research and community-oriented work for several years now. Following our protagonists’ as well as our own trajectories, the film-settings then got expanded to include shots in Cologne, Paris, Southall/London, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Delhi.

We did not begin this project as professional documentary filmmakers. This project emerged gradually as we went along, as we got slowly accustomed to the idea of, indeed, producing a documentary. The film is shot with small digital cameras producing an overall good picture and audio quality, though probably not that of the latest professional standards.

We were strongly encouraged and motivated to shoot this film by many of those we encountered doing research and community work: strangers who became friends, friends who continued to share some of their perspectives on life with us.

Our overall aim has been to portray aspects of everyday Sikh diasporic life that has been less marked by the grand scale of identity politics, though some of that is certainly included in the film. So, our goals have been much more modest in finding ways to account for the everydayness of Sikh diasporic life, and likely not just Sikh diasporic life, but with a particular angle on questions that relate matters of “Sikhi” or the Sikh way of living with the everyday social and political realities on the ground. Also, we have been more interested in considering issues of a younger generation of ‘musafers/sojourners’ without wanting to attribute them labels such as “second generation migrant,” “asylum seeker,” “economic migrant” or whatever other label circulates in the public.

We would be interested to get your feedback, whether you liked the film or not, whether you are yourself a Sikh or any other sojourner of a younger or older generation.

Michael Nijhawan is Associate Professor in Sociology at York University, Toronto. He has worked and written extensively on Sikh and Panjabi society and culture, both in South Asia and the diasporic context. His recent books include: Dhadi Darbar: Religion, Violence and the Performance of Sikh History (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia, co-edited with K. Pemberton (Routledge, 2009).

Khushwant Singh is working in the field of international cooperation. He has studied Social Anthropology and did research in Panjab and Germany. Khushwant is actively involved in inter-religious dialogue as a member of the Council of Religions in Frankfurt. He teaches Sikhi to youngsters.

Brought up in Germany, both filmmakers share a personal and academic commitment to Sikhi, Punjabi society and culture. Khushwant who was born in Panjab came to Germany with his family at young age. He has been deeply committed to Sikhi since his teenage years. He moderated a Sikhi radio show in London. Michael, German-born, has stayed several years in India, travelling, studying and doing research. Both filmmakers, who came to know each other at Heidelberg University, have worked together in academic collaborations in India and Germany. It is their first documentary film.

Indi Kaur is a vocalist, songwriter and composer, who is featured in this film and kindly allowed us to use some of her artistic work. On her website she writes about herself: “Her attachment to voice and melody is reflected in her pursuit for traditional as well as experimental approaches to sonic art forms which are reflected in her projects.” She has released two albums in the U.K and Maylasia: “Keep on Walking” (2005), which features in Musafer, along with “Imajind” that was released in 2006. There are several more recent productions that you can find on the internet.

In the film you can also see scenes from the Paris rehearsals, when Indi shared the stage in summer 2007 with award winning French singer Camille, Julia Sarr, Seb Martel and her producer/collaborator Majiker.

Delhi Sultanate
A short piece in the film is performed by Delhi Sultanate (featuring Dhruv). Delhi Sultanate, alias Taru Dalmia is a reggae and hip hop artist as well as a performance poet and scholar based in New Delhi India. He writes about himself that “he has performed at various poetry forums and live shows, representing the lyrical and cultural tradition of reggae dancehall and hip hop in India. In 2005 Taru opened the Kitab literature fest in Delhi. The following year he performed at the British Council alongside Guyanese born London poet Malika Booker. He is known to devastate audiences and unsuspecting media representatives with raw reality lyrics that take a hard look at life in Delhi and India at large. Delhi Sultanate's music ranges from straight forward dancehall and hip hop tunes to dubstep, drum and bass and more experimental electronic and acoustic music.”

A Word of Acknowledgment
We are grateful to our editor Celeste Diamos, who devoted much time and patience toward the completion of this project. We also would like to thank everybody who participated in the film and to all of those friends and family members who supported us throughout the journey. Thanks so much to all of you.

Musafer has received generous support by the following research grants: Faculty of Arts Research, York University, Toronto Teaching Development Grants, York University, Toronto Social Science and Humanities Research Council Canada In its initial stages we have also received technical and research support by the German Research Council (SFB 619).

1 comment:

  1. I am interested to know more about Sikhs around the world. Hope the film gives us glimpses.