In Memory of Friends: Why a 1990 Documentary on the Fallout of the 1984 Pogrom Still Remains Relevant

POV

In Memory of Friends: Why a 1990 Documentary on the Fallout of the 1984 Pogrom Still Remains Relevant

Illustration: Arati Gujar

A

nyone who has grown up in India will have heard a “sardar joke” at some point in their life. Usually featuring a Santa or Banta Singh, these derivative jokes have been an essential component of Indian humour, perpetuating a stereotype that having a turban over one’s head guarantees a lower IQ.

While I grew up bombarded with jokes at the expense of an entire community, Anand Patwardhan’s 1990 documentary In Memory Of Friends made me realise that the alienation and othering of Sikhs reached alarming levels during the ’80s. In the events following the fateful days of November 1984, the atmosphere had grown so vitriolic that many Sikhs declared that they did not owe any allegiance to the tricolour, and that the only path towards salvation could be if a separate Sikh state came into existence.

Though the violence which engulfed Punjab during the ’80s seems to be a thing of the past, the fact that Sikhs continue to be singled out in India today with the same treatment as blonde women in American humour, speaks a thousand words.

READ MORE

Comments