Important for us to know stories, not history: Sapna Bhavnani on Sindhustan
Celebrity hairstylist Sapna Moti Bhavnani’s directorial debut Sindhustan is the story of the largest migration of culture in history told through ink (tattoos). The film also won Best Documentary at the New York Indian Film Festival.
It is important for us to know our stories, especially as Sindhis we don’t have any state so the language is also dying
SheThePeople.TV spoke to her about what inspired her to make this documentary, her mission to make people aware of Sindhi culture and her future plans to make more such documentaries.
It all began, she says, when she watched a performance by a group of Sindhi fakirs, she says and was mesmerised by their music. Soon after, she realized that her favourite singer, Abida Parveen, is also Sindhi. These revelations compelled her to dig deeper into her own history and also of Sindh’s at large.
Talking about the warm reception that the film received, she said that she had never anticipated that she would receive a phenomenal response from the other side. “They have made a hashtag #GrantVisaToSapna2VisitSindh for me to come to the other side,” she says.
According to her, Sindhustan is to apprise the upcoming generation who does not care much about Partition and are ignorant about what those who underwent Partition went through. “It’s not for the people who already went through the trauma, it’s for those who don’t know about it,” she asserts adding, “It is important for us to know our stories, especially as Sindhis we don’t have any state so the language is also dying. In my family, I’m probably the last generation who knows the language. So it’s actually important to talk so that the language, the culture can stay intact on this side.”
The documentary has personal narratives – Sapna Bhavnani
Sapna also explained how both men and women suffered equally during and after Partition. “Most men suffered a lot in the sense that they had to send their families away and stay back on their own to protect their land. As for women, it was scary for them to travel alone carrying their children in a bus or ship. So both had suffered equally in their different ways,” she states.
Talking about her family’s story revolving around the Partition, she said, “Every Sindhi has a story related to the Partition. My father was born there and I’m the first generation of India. That’s why I made this film as you won’t find these stories on the web. They are personal narratives and hence it’s a simple story of where they lived, where they went to school. It’s not historical from any angle because that is something you can just get from the web.”
Sapna shared that she is not sure about shooting such documentaries in the future. “There’s no money in it and I’m putting my own money. Art is not something which is supported by our government and people, we have to put in our own money. So in that sense, I don’t think it is viable. But yes I’m planning to do more feature stories on this.”