‘A Warrior’s Religion’ looks at Indo-Canadian gang life

March 2, 2009 by  

On Sunday afternoon a handful of community leaders and curious onlookers gathered at the Rio Theatre on East Broadway for an advance screening of a documentary on Indo-Canadian gang violence.

“A Warrior’s Religion,” by local filmmaker Mani Amar, explores the growing problem of gang violence in Greater Vancouver’s Indo-Canadian community.

Amar spoke to relatives of gang victims, community leaders, Sikh temple elders, local MLAs and police officers, as well as former gang members who have left the lifestyle — including one man who was left blind and paralyzed after being shot in the face.

Amar produced the film almost entirely by himself over three years, financing it with $56,000 of his own money. He was on hand before and after the film to speak about his experiences documenting gang life, as well as to answer questions.

“A lot of people ask me why I’m doing this, and the simple reason is because someone had to,” he said.

In the audience was Eileen Mohan, mother of Chris Mohan, who was gunned down by gang members in 2007.

Mohan also appeared in the film, which consisted largely of interviews with people from different levels in society and different opinions on what to do about gang violence. Later, she spoke to the audience about her loss. “We will never be able to eliminate gangs…but with better education, we can control them.”

After her son died, Mohan said, she went from 115 to 95 pounds.

A short question-and-answer session followed the screening. The first audience question was about how no one in the film took responsibility for dealing with gangs. Amar explained that the lack of responsibility at any level of society was one of the underlying themes of the film.

Amar was also asked about any personal changes he went through while producing the documentary. “When it stopped being a documentary for me was when I interviewed Eileen Mohan,” he said. In one scene, Mohan held a bag which held the urn for her son’s ashes. “This is what a six-foot guy is reduced to…a case like this.”

Amar said it took him two weeks to edit the footage of her.

“A Warrior’s Religion” will have its public premiere screenings March 18 and 19 at the Bell Centre in Surrey.


2 Responses to “‘A Warrior’s Religion’ looks at Indo-Canadian gang life”

  1. Nirmal G. on March 3rd, 2009 11:35 pm

    I viewed the movie on March 1st at the Rio and was amazed at the passion and flow of the film. It had a lot more to say than I imagined. It answered questions only to bring up more questions in it’s place. The answers, thus far, do not exist because we haven’t come up with them. But, I think that the questions started to become a lot more clearer.

    Instead of pointing fingers, or assuming that someone else is responsible, how does a community that used to be so community minded return to it’s roots? One of the things that was brought up in the film was that in India, it takes a community to raise a child.

    It’s a common problem A fast paced world where materialism is almost a religion – and so we have to have more material things. And so we sacrifice family time to have ‘security’ the big house and give their kids material rewards for getting good grades.

    That’s the modern world at large, yes. So, do we, as a community, have to go to hell in a hand basket because the rest of the world struggles with the same thing? I am GLAD the media has brought this up, fair or unfair. I rather be aware and do something about the problem than hide my head in the sand being ashamed that everyone is pointing a finger at me and mine.

    A violent person is a violent person – a coward is a coward – with Khanda or no Khanda. And a person who stands up amongst controversy is the real warrior.

  2. Keim on June 10th, 2009 1:40 pm

    There’s no reason why underage kids should join gangs in the first place. They should try getting a job or do some volunteering instead of beating up innocent people. Then agan, the parents are just as socially uneducated and deserve enough rope to hang themselves stupid. Where else would these kids learn that any kind of violence the solution for everything?

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