American teenager makes film on Sikh man who forced US to change turban policy

The film is based on Gurinder Singh Khalsa who received the Rosa Parks Trailblazer award for his campaign

By PTI in Washington
  • Published 13.02.19, 12:36 PM
  • Updated 13.02.19, 12:36 PM
  • 2 mins read
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Representative image: Filmmaker Jenna Ruiz says the film will shed light on the true vulnerability and fear that comes with being racially profiled. iStock

An 18-year-old girl in the US has made a short film titled Singh, based on the true story of Gurinder Singh Khalsa, an Indian-American Sikh entrepreneur, whose campaign forced the authorities in the US to change their policy towards turbans.

Directed by Jenna Ruiz, a student and actor from Indiana, the film draws on an incident in 2007 when Khalsa was stopped from boarding a flight in Buffalo, New York, because he refused to remove his turban after successfully passing through every security measure at the airport.

Following this incident, Indianapolis-based Khalsa worked towards bringing the issue to the attention of the US Congress, which later resulted in headgear policies being changed in airports nationwide.

Khalsa was recently conferred with the prestigious Rosa Parks Trailblazer award for his campaign.

In the short film, Khalsa is made to choose between his religious beliefs and his flight to see his mother in her last days.

This film will allow viewers to experience firsthand what it is like to be made to choose between religious beliefs and everyday life.

Filmmaker Jenna Ruiz

"It is an honour to be able to showcase a moment in history that led to change in our TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Policy regarding the removal of headgear, said Ruiz, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"However, it's more than that; it's one man's real-life story that will shed light on the true vulnerability and fear that comes with being racially profiled this film will allow viewers to experience firsthand what it is like to be made to choose between religious beliefs and everyday life," she said.

Since her start in the film industry at the age of nine, Ruiz has had the opportunity to appear in multiple films and commercials, as well as write, shoot and produce several films and music videos.

Singh has been filmed at the Indianapolis International Airport and is slated to be released next month.

“I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith," Khalsa had said earlier in a media statement.

"Incidents like this one happens for the greater good, where misunderstandings occur between people of different backgrounds and faith, strengthen our society," said Khalsa, who recently announced that he will enter electoral politics in America and will run for City Council of Fishers.