Deepa Mehta talks about her latest film, Beeba Boys
October 5, 2015, Montreal – Deepa Mehta, an Indo-Canadian film director and screenwriter, was in Montreal promoting her latest film, ‘Beeba Boys’. She is an Academy Award Nominee for her films, ‘Earth’ and ‘Water’. Deepa received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award or Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts.
Monika Spolia – Welcome to Bharat Times in Montreal. I saw ‘Beeba Boys’ this morning and I just loved it. A well-done movie. Congratulations!
‘Beeba Boys’ seems to be well representative of about second and third generation Indo-Canadian gangs, especially the Sikh gangs in the Vancouver area indulging in warfare and drug trade. I admire you for being the pioneer in addressing these current pressing issues. What exactly moved you in this direction to make this movie?
Deepa Mehta – The gangs are everywhere. In Vancouver, there are the Chinese gangs, English gangs, Japanese gangs, Mexican gangs and also the Indo-Canadian gangs, some of them are Sikh gangs and some are Hindu gangs also. So, it seems like every section of every community has a bad side to it.
I was really surprised, being of the Punjabi and Indian community myself, that no one knows this section of our community. I feel this is a real problem. There are so many deaths, so many mothers who are grieving, so many children who have been orphaned and yet we, like all immigrants, don’t want to talk about what is negative.
We always want to be perceived as if we are perfect and I can understand that. In a white dominated society, you don’t want to create any waves, rather you want to be seen as a group contributing to the society. This is one aspect, one section of the society.
We owe it to our own community to do something about it. The larger community owes it to us also, and we should all work together because we are all Canadians.
Monika Spolia – Yes, absolutely. While watching the movie, somewhere along the line I felt it is implied that these gangs grew out of members’ ways of joining the mainstream culture. Are you suggesting that the mainstream Canadian culture is all about gang and war? How do you perceive that?
Deepa Mehta – No, not at all. I think the gangs grow out of many reasons. A gang comes out of wanting fast and quick money. There are very few people who actually want to spend their lives doing PhD or learning to be a doctor, but there are some who don’t. It is very interesting that for every Indo-Canadian gang member, there are three other Indo-Canadian police men who belong to RCMP.
So, the gangs grow out of wanting quick money, assimilation and respect. This film actually portrays the Indo-Canadians wanting respect and recognition for who they are.
Monika Spolia – In the making of this movie, did you have to rely on the support of the Sikh community because a lot of Sikh temples are shown in the movie. Did you find the Sikh community to be supportive?
Deepa Mehta – Yes, they were very supportive. We shot in the Gurudwaras. The head granthi read the whole script and knew what it was all about. Everything was ok.
Monika Spolia – Great. Beeba Boys also takes a peak into the world of women related to these gang members. It shows the bonding and the dilemmas both. Can you comment on that please?
Deepa Mehta – As a woman, it was interesting and very important for me to show the women. In usual gang movies, we don’t see much women at all. They just come and go; they are only there for five seconds.
‘Beeba Boys’ is set in a community, in my community, so I know how important mothers are, relationships are and daughters are. So, for me it was really trying to show that these are strong women, who are aware of what their sons are doing and do not approve of it. That was very important.
Monika Spolia – Amongst the movies you have done so far, ‘Heaven On Earth’, touched me the most for the same reasons as ‘Beeba Boys’ that no one had dared explore that area before. And I have witnessed many families in that situation all across Canada. Indo-Canadians in general find your movies a bit controversial. Please comment on that.
Deepa Mehta – I don’t like the word controversy. There are many kinds of films. No community wants to see an aspect of themselves in a negative light. It’s not just the Indian community, it’s all the communities. But the thing is it doesn’t go away. If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t go away. We have to talk about it.
I get a lot of flags from the community as to why I am washing dirty laundry in public, but a lot of women really appreciate it. A lot of women have been through domestic violence and they know that it happens, so it create an awareness especially for the young people.
The film is taught in Universities across Canada. It is shown in shelters, so, the women realize that they are not alone. One of the real problems about domestic violence is women feel it is their fault that they get beaten up. On the contrary, the film shows that it is really not their fault and they are not to blame. This way the movie has helped a lot of women.
Similarly, the ‘Beeba Boys’ is hugely entertaining. It has got a lot of energy and action.
But finally, it’s about ‘Crime Doesn’t Pay’. So, I hope the kids, who see it, will understand that it might look fascinating and glamorous to be a gangster, and it is, but it doesn’t end well if you are dead.
Monika Spolia – No, it doesn’t end well at all in the gangs. A very well-done job. Would you like to send a message to the community regarding this film?
Deepa Mehta – I would like the community to come and see this film. Because ‘Beeba Boys’ breaks many stereotypes, it is very important. And it’s also very important that we talk about it.
Monika Spolia – Thank you, Deepa.
Go and see ‘Beeba Boys’ – fast, suspenseful, a thriller, family drama, action – it’s got it all, cream of Bollywood in Hollywood.
Dr. Monika Spolia