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The World Premiere of Celebrity Stylist Sapna Moti Bhavnani’s directorial debut feature Sindhustan at the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) was screened to a packed house of audience bringing together Sindhis from India and Pakistan under one roof. The screening was followed by a huge applaud and an engaging Q and A. Among the audience there were many Sindhis from Pakistan who came to watch the film including two gentlemen who gifted Ajrak scarf to her.

Touched by their gesture and the audience response Sapna says, “I am overwhelmed by the full house and the response from Sindhis from both sides of the border. I am confident that it won’t be long till I get to go to Sindh and walk the land with my inked legs.” She adds, “I also understood how urgent it was to make my film and how full of life and love my people are from both sides of the border!”

Talking about why she decided to have the World Premiere her film at NYIFF Sapna says, “I am really glad that the film made its premiere at NYIFF 2019. It is a great platform to tell our story to the world and introduce them to history of the Sindhi community who were part of the largest migration to be ever witnessed.”

She adds, “I cannot thank NYIFF enough for allowing my film to premiere in a land where I grew up.”

Soon after the World Premiere at NYIFF taking place from 7th to 12th May 2019, Sapna is headed to Atlanta Indian Film Festival where her film is in Official Selection.

Sindhustan is a fascinating exploration of the Sindhi community’s migration to India narrated through a series of extensively designed body tattoos, all of which are illustrated on Sapna Moti Bhavnani body. Through the documentary, Bhavnani attempts to also dwell into her roots and the history of the Sindhi community, which migrated in large numbers to India from Sindh during the India-Pakistan partition. The title Sindhustan also refers to the River Sindh, which is Asia’s largest river flowing through India and forms an important part of India’s history.

Sindhustan has won the Griffith Film School Award at DocEdge Kolkata 2019.

The film is edited by Kabir Singh Chowdhry who had directed the Jio MAMI 2018 Grand Jury Award winning mockumentary Mehsampur.

Sindhustan was inspired by an interesting conversation that occurred between Bhavnani and her maternal grandmother many years ago. Bhavnani was visiting India after staying in the U.S for 14 years. During this time, she was considerably inked, she was desperately trying to hide her inked body. Her grandmother who herself sported tattoos remarked “Sapna, you are so old fashioned”.

Sapna was taken further aback when her grandmother said, “You know, when we first came as a human race, we didn’t have countries or governments, we lived in extended families and we all had our markings. We all looked like you. I’m happy to see to you are going back to our roots, your roots.”

Bhavnani was surprised by this statement made by her grandmother as till then she believed the tattoos was her way of rebelling against the Indian culture.

She then set out to chronicle the Sindh community’s history and thus Sindhustan was born. The documentary includes several stories from India and Sindh. It also includes Bhavnani illustrating the Sindh community’s journey through the tattoos inked on her legs, which traces the history of the Sindh community. The tattoos on her legs are designed using the art forms Ajrak and Madhubani which originate from Sindh and India respectively.

Sindhustan derives its title from the Sindhu river. Also, when the Persians came to India, they had difficulty pronouncing ‘se’ and used the alphabet ‘h’ instead. So Sindhu became Hindu and the Hindustan was used instead of what could have been Sindhustan according to Bhavnani.

The celebrity stylist has worked on the documentary for a period of 7 years. During the process, she spoke to people from India as well as Pakistan hailing from the Sindh region, as she wanted to cover all the perspectives of its fascinating history. She also took the help of her friends from Pakistan for shooting footage of the Sindh. And thus, the d documentary Sindhustan was finally made.

Talking about Sindhustan and its selection at the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) 2019, an elated Sapna Bhavnani said, “Sindhustan comes from a very personal space. I wanted to chronicle the history and heritage of the Sindhi community so that their legacy can be passed on to newer generations. And thus, Sindhustan was born.

Just recently Sapna was awarded the “IBelieve” award and the “FemEmpowerment” Award for her work with ex sex workers by starting a free hair academy called Path. I congratulate Sapna on the great success of the documentary and wish her greater success in her future assignments. Trade Magazine



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