Published: 03rd July 2019
This documentary by Sapna Moti shows the perils of Sindhi community's migration from Pakistan
Sapna Moti Bhavnani was in Chandigarh when we spoke to her about Sindhustan and informed us that the film will be travelling to many international film festivals
Coming from a Sindhi family who uprooted themselves from Pakistan and arrived in Mumbai from Karachi after partition, you think I would have been regaled by tales of how my grandparents braved the choppy waters of Arabian Sea. But I am ashamed to say that I know no such thing. "Your grandfather would never speak about the horrors of the journey and God alone knows what must have scarred him," my father would often tell me. I would often feel robbed of that story and find myself at a dead end when trying to understand what shaped my grandparents. I might have lost out on an integral part of my family's history, but Sapna Moti Bhavnani's documentary Sindhustan, ensures that it documents at least a few echoes from the exodus of the Sindhi community because she understands the importance of these tales. "These stories need to be told before they are lost to all of us," she asserts.
Bhavnani, who is a popular celebrity hair stylist and is known to have worked with the who's who of Bollywood like Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif and more, had decided to document the stories of the Sindhi community's migration to India through tattoos designed on her legs. And not just any tattoos. She spoke to several people who underwent the tribulation and enlisted popular tattoo artist Yogesh Waghmare's help to document their stories using art forms Ajrak from Sindh and Kutch and Madhubani from Bihar which also included typographical representations. "There are tattoos that depict the legends of Jhulelal (revered deity of Sindhi Hindus), a vegetarian crocodile, a family enjoying a picnic near River Sindh and so on," says Bhavnani who was born in Mumbai and moved to the US in 1989.
The film has been produced under the banner Akbar Pains, an independent entertainment company and was founded by Sapna Moti Bhavnani and Kabir Singh Chowdhry, who is the editor of Sindhustan
But if you are expecting to get a crash course on the Sindhi community, be warned that Sindhustan is not that kind of a documentary. It is laced with several intimate anecdotes and interviews of those who survived the partition. "The documentary is heartfelt and beautiful, far from your typical documentary," says Bhavnani who moved to Mumbai back in 2002.
Seven years of conceptualising, three years of shooting and after six edits, Sindhustan was born. And today, it is traveling to film festivals in Canada, Germany and the US. The film recently won the Best Documentary at the New York Indian Film Festival. While being a part of the New York Film Academy's first batch in Mumbai, we wonder if the idea of this documentary was lurking in her mind somewhere. "I took up the course to purely explore myself. I believe that there is no age bar when it comes to education," says the 48-year-old.
On her way: Bhavnani is already working on her second project | (Pic: Sapna Moti Bhavnani)
Harking back to the stereotypes that are associated with Sindhis including being misers, Bhavnani, through her documentary, wants to show the world the side of the Sindhi community that they are not familiar with. "Already the Sindhi culture is dying because the next generation of Sindhis doesn't speak the language anymore. When a language is lost, a culture is lost. It is important that we tell this story urgently," she laments.
Facts about the Sindhi community:
- They are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group
- Most Sindhi Hindus and Sindhi Sikhs migrated from Pakistan after the partition while most Sindhi Muslims stayed back
- They speak the language Sindhi which is written from right to left
- There are about 30,00,000 Sindhis in India
- Most Sindhis are concentrated in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad
First glimpse: The poster of the documentary | (Pic: Sapna Moti Bhavnani)
For more on the documentary, check out sindhustanthedocumentary.com