World of Indian diaspora to come alive in docu series

Updated: May 01, 2011, 13:40 PM IST

New Delhi: The world of the Indian diaspora, their life in all its shades of colours, will soon come alive in a series of documentaries that well-known documentary filmmaker Siddharth Kak and his Surabhi Foundation are currently making.

The series of 10 documentaries will be shot partly on location in countries where large numbers of overseas Indians are settled.

The documentaries will show the vast world of the Indian diaspora, telling the stories of Indians settled in countries like Malaysia, Mauritius, the UAE, Oman, Britain, the US, Canada, South Africa, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, Singapore and Australia.

"The film team will travel to 14 countries and trail the stories of Indian emigrants - their struggles, triumphs and assimilation into their adopted countries," Pooja Khemani of the Surabhi Foundation for Research and Cultural Exchange told reporters.

The film crew has already completed shooting in Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius.

"In Mauritius we plan to tell the story of the Indian community`s arrival in the island country, their history and political struggles.

"We will film the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Mauritius as well as the blending of cultures that has occurred over the generations," explained Pooja, who is an assistant director of the project.

Each documentary will show the history of Indian migration to the country mainly through preserved documents, old records, photo albums, interviews and through the interesting stories of some of the families who were among the early Indian migrants.

The films will record the achievements of the Indian communities and successful individuals in different spheres of activities.

The stories from Mauritius, Trinidad, Guyana and Fiji will have a lot of farm background as Indians landed there over a century ago to work on sugarcane plantations.

The pioneering labourers made great sacrifices and laid the foundations for future generations. Their descendants now occupy senior positions in all walks of life, ranging from business to politics and community organisations.

The diaspora in the US, Britain, Canada and Australia is of more recent origin and more closely connected with India, said the Surabhi official.

Though a few Indians had migrated to these countries as far back as the last decades of the 19th century, regular migration began around the 1970s when the governments in these countries relaxed their immigration regulations to allow entry for Asians.

The Indian communities there now form a sizeable minority.

The Gulf countries present an entirely different picture as far as the Indian diaspora is concerned.

With over four million Indians residing in the Middle East countries, the Indian expatriates have become major contributors to the massive economic development in the region.

While a majority of Indian expatriates are labourers in the Gulf countries, there are a number of businessmen, some of them highly successful, who arrived in the region several decades ago.

The remittances from Indians in the Gulf region make a substantial portion of the total remittances sent back home by Indians living abroad.

The tales from the desert countries will be an important part of the 10 documentaries Surabhi is currently filming.

Siddharth Kak, documentary filmmaker and television producer, has made more than 100 documentary films.
Kak became a familiar figure for Doordarshan audiences for making and presenting the long running cultural magazine "Surabhi" for the national broadcaster.