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YADI – a film documentary in progress

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By Leo Erken, April 2016

My friend Yadivindra Singh Saroya passed away on October 6, 2015, at the age of 49. He was the son of Sikh immigrants who moved to the United Kingdom from the Punjab. He was only six years old when his family moved to Hounslow, London. I met him in 1987 when I was working on a photo series about the Sikh community in London. At the time Yadi was 21 and I was 23.

As a photographer, I documented his life intensively from thereon and we made all kinds of plans for joint films and photography projects but over the years we never quite managed to see those plans through. After Yadi’s passing, questions came to my mind: ‘Why didn’t we?’ And also: ‘Why was I his only white friend?’ With his family and other people that surrounded him, I started working on a film. In the same rooms as I was many years before, I started observing their lives with a camera again.

The main question I had 28 years ago is still alive: ‘What’s reality like when you live by the rules of an eastern religion in a western world?’ But straight away I got serious questions back about the meaning of the pictures I had taken in the past and about my safe position on the other side of the camera.
In this film, we will make observations both ways: about our lives with and without religion and try to find meaning in telling these personal histories. It will be a film about community and its relation to society as well as taking a look at life as an in- or outsider.

Great thanks to: Georgie Pope, Gulzar Hussein and Kayman Ali Kawa for the music in the (temporary) trailer above.

 

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