Sikh Meets World
Ben Rekhi, Writer, Producer, and Director
Ben Rekhi is an award-winning Sikh filmmaker from northern California. From working with the Coen brothers to producing Hindi horror films, he has made a name for himself in the film industry. His notable past work includes Waterborne (2005) and The Ashram (2018), and most recently, he directed Watch List (2019) in Manila, a crime thriller set in the drug underworld during the time of Rodrigo Duterte's extrajudicial killings. The film was nominated for a Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Ben has recently turned to documentaries including his recent film, The Reunited States. The documentary is born from his passion to bridge divides and share the lives of people who were challenging biases. He hopes viewers will walk away from the film knowing that “we all have a role to play in bringing our country back together.” Ben continues to look for opportunities to heal our nation and world through the power of storytelling.
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5. Victoria Virasingh, Congressional Candidate41:59Victoria Virasingh was born and raised in Arlington, VA, and is the daughter of immigrants from Ecuador and Punjabi Sikhs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from Stanford University on a full scholarship. After completing her education, she worked for Senator Diane Feinstein and then pursued a career in technology at Palantir where she founded and led the Future of Work team. She returned to her home in Arlington to focus on community building, local politics, and working with nonprofits. In this episode, she shares her experience growing up in America, what led her to run for congress, and her hopes for restoring the American Dream.
4. Omi Vaidya, Actor and Filmmaker39:45Omi is an accomplished actor who has worked in both film and television in the United States and abroad. He has had roles on hit TV shows including, “The Office,” “Arrested Development,” and “Bones.” He is best known by Bollywood fans for his performances in “3 Idiots,” “The Desert Rose,” and “American Aliens.” We talked with him about his experience growing up in the high desert of California and his acting career. We discuss his time on “The Office” as the only Sikh character and he also shares his dream of documenting the story of Dalip Singh Saund, the first Sikh and Asian American Congressman.
2. G.B. Singh, Retired US Army Colonel58:35Retired Colonel G.B. Singh is the highest-ranking Sikh to serve in the U.S. Army. As you'll hear in this podcast, he repeatedly demonstrated the tenacity, courage, and eternal optimism of Sikhs while maintaining his peaceful, positive demeanor when confronted with discrimination and ignorance. He successfully fought the pressure to conform to the Turban Ban and stood out for years as the only person with a turban and beard. To combat the ban, he invented safe methods for Sikhs with beards and turbans to use gas masks and helmets. Over time, the ban was lifted and religious exemptions have become more and more common. Today, GB watches his daughter Naureen, a newly-commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, join a military more equitable than the one he joined. In this episode, we hear the story of his military career and his advice on leadership and service for young Sikhs.
1. Manmeet Singh, Activist, Filmmaker, Musician01:17:43Manmeet Singh is a filmmaker, musician, activist, world traveler, and much more. He has been on the frontlines in the United States on the farmer's protest in India and Sikhs in Afghanistan who experience horrific discrimination and recently experienced a brutal attack from ISIS. In this podcast we discuss his career and activism on the issues of the day.
2. Valarie Kaur, Author, Activist, and Filmmaker50:37On this episode, Valarie Kaur chats with National Sikh Campaign co-founders Gurwin Singh Ahuja and Shawn Singh Ghuman to discuss her cure for our polarized political climate, thoughts on cancel culture, and how young Sikh Americans can pursue activism. The renown filmmaker and activist is also a newly-published author with her new autobiography, See No Stranger, which she discusses on the pod, as well as her Revolutionary Love Project.
1. Simran Jeet Singh, Professor, Author, and Activist40:03Simran Jeet Singh is a professor at Columbia University, a Senior Fellow at the Sikh Coalition, the host of the Spirited podcast, an author, a father, and a devout San Antonio Spurs fan. He joined the pod to discuss his American story, the reasons that pushed him to embrace advocacy, and his new book, Fauja Singh Keeps Going, which releases on August 25, 2020. We recorded this discussion in March 2019 before the pandemic and protests, but Simran naturally touched on rising hate crimes, the attributes of true solidarity, and the importance of seva.
5. Randeep Singh Sarai, Canadian MP59:29Randeep Singh Sarai MP (born April 15, 1975) is a Canadian politician who was elected as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada to represent the federal electoral district Surrey Center during the 2015 Canadian federal election. Randeep was recently re-elected and on this episode he talks about his rise to power as a Member of Parliament, his prime minister, Justin Trudeau, his thoughts on Jagmeet Singh, the Sikh NDP leader, and his advice to Sikh Americans on how to build political power.
4. The Sandy Lion, Stylist, Influencer, and Teacher35:53Sandy Kaur Gill (SKG) better known as TheSandyLion is a stylist and image consultant with the simple goal of helping people look and feel the best about themselves. She has worked closely with public figures including Lilly Singh, Beena Minhaj, Nabela, and Humble The Poet. Sandy is a brand ambassador for Nike, Gillette and Neostrata, and has worked with other notable brands including Apple, Guess Jeans, Aldo Shoes and Hayley Elsaesser. She also works as an elementary school teacher in Brampton, and has partnered with organizations to help spread access to education to girls around the world. Sandy sat down with us to discuss her motivations for becoming a stylist, an influencer, and a teacher and her advice for young Sikh women who want pursue fashion and teaching.