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By Doug Brunell | June 30, 2008

Who is Monty Panesar? Why is he for England? Why should you care? I can answer the first two. He’s a Sikh who plays for the English cricket team. As far as why you should care, I have no clue. It’s like promoting a Jew who plays for the Lakers. It should be a non-issue … but this short film would have you believe differently.

I understand that Sikhs aren’t the most understood of religious groups. Many unenlightened souls think they are terrorists, and Sikhs would (understandably) like to clear this up. Therefore we get a “documentary” that seems like more of a PR tool put out by Panesar’s agent with the backing and full approval of the Sikh community. That may make for an interesting media/sociology study, but it doesn’t make for a good film.

Sikhs should not have to go out of their way to dispel people’s ignorance. It is cheap and demeaning. Will anyone change their mind about Sikhs because one happens to play cricket? Doubtful. Will people without their heads firmly lodged up their rear ends look at this film as little more than a half-hearted, ill-conceived PSA about the Sikh community being just like everyone else? Most definitely. And the more cynical-minded folks may even say it’s propaganda. It’s far too ineffective to be that, and if you take it at face value you can’t help but think the filmmakers have only scratched the surface of Panesar’s story. Too bad they missed the boat because they could have made a film that really mattered … and one that would give Sikhs reason to be proud.

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