Exploring the roots of the diverse secular 19th century Empire of Ranjit Singh and our present day Canadian society.
"Lions Rise" will tell the story of the Maharaja Ranjit Singhs Kingdom in Northern India. The rise of an Empire by a 19 year old founded in 1799. The Kingdom was the last to be conquered by the British in 1849. In those 50 years a golden age occurred in which a society consisting of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians were able to unite and utilize diversity to create a near utopian secular society in the brutal age of colonialism, and imperialism. Ranjit Singhs kingdom set the blueprint for a diverse nation in which no discrimination occurred based on religion, caste, or sex. Utilizing interviews with top scholars in Canada, US, and dramatic reenactments we can delve deep into histories lost secular empire and connect to the present diversity of Canada.
The wonderful team for "Lions Rise"
Anne Murphy is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia and, from 2017-2020, co-Director of the Centre for India and South Asia Research in the Institute of Asian Research. Dr. Murphy’s research interests focus on early modern and modern cultural representation in Punjab and within the Punjabi Diaspora, as well as more broadly in South Asia, with particular attention to the historical formation of religious communities and special but not exclusive attention to the Sikh tradition.
Inni Kaur serves as the CEO of Sikh Research Institute. An influential leader, respected artist, poet and published author, her eloquent words have been heard around the world, including presentations at Yale and Fairfield Universities, and the U.S. Office of the Pentagon Chaplin. Inni Kaur is dedicated to community and service of others, and continues to be an integral member of several faith-based organizations. Inni will be providing interview support as well as setting up other potential scholars and historians for interview from across Canada and the US.
Jyoti M. Rai, a renowned numismatist, was a member of the American Numismatic Society's Standing Committee for Central and South Asian Coins. A specialist on Sikh coinage for over 20 years, she has studied, catalogued and assessed coins of the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, writing several papers on Sikh mints and coins for the UK's Oriental Numismatic Society. She owns an extensive and rare collection of Sikh coins, related books and documents. She has also done extensive research in Sikh history and on the life and times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Service to the community is second nature to Harjit Sajjan. As a former detective with the Vancouver Police Department, a former Lieutenant Colonel with the British Columbia Regiment and a long-time advocate for youth education and mentorship programs, Harjit has made serving others a cornerstone of his life. Harjit, who immigrated to Canada from India with his family when he was five years old, grew up in South Vancouver and has benefitted from everything our diverse and culturally rich community has to offer. In addition to his role as MP, he proudly serves in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet
Steve Purewal is the head of Indus Media Foundation Canada, a non profit society based in the lower mainland. Steve seeks to foster an appreciation for Punjabi culture while underpinning multiculturalism through the reconciliation of Canada's traditional heritage and values with those of the Punjabi diaspora. Steve is an expert in the shared history that Indians and Canadians share. With Steves expertise we will be able to create the cultural and historical bridge of South Asian and Canadian identity with historical facts, and true tales of bravery.
Harinder Singh is a widely respected educator and thinker who is deeply in love with 1Force, the Oneness that radiates in all. Love and Justice symbiotic paradigm propels him to leverage public awareness for social change. He currently serves as the Senior Fellow, Research & Policy, at the Sikh Research Institute. Mr. Singh co-founded the Sikh Research Institute and the Panjab Digital Library, organized the Free Akal Takht movement, and envisioned Kaur and Singh Academy. He served on the boards of the National Conference on Community and Justice, The Fellowship of Activists to Embrace Humanity
Jagmeet Singh was born in Scarborough, Ontario, spent part of his childhood living in St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador and grew up in Windsor, Ontario. Jagmeet holds a B.Sc. in biology from the University of Western Ontario and an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School. He was first elected as Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding Bramalea-Gore-Malton in 2011, re-elected in 2014 and served as both the Deputy House Leader and later Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP from 2015-17. As Leader, he will attack some of the most challenging issues of our time.
The lower mainland of BC is a diverse and multicultral place. Punjabi is Canada's third most spoken language, and people of South Asian decent are an colourful part of Canadian society. However, there is an distinct disconnect in the South Asian community in celebrating our history and appreciating our Canadian values. The South Asian youth have not had a platform to learn about the shared values, and history that our multicultural upbringings provide us with. We want to change the narrative and show how our South Asian heritage and Canadian present are inherently linked and cohesive.
All men and women are equal, the freedom to express any religious belief without condemnation or death, no pillaging or exploitation after battle, but peacekeeping and defence, growing a nation through immigration and unity, and allowing any person of any religion or race to hold positions in public office without discrimination are a few of the many values these two nations shared. The diversity and openness of both the Kingdom and Canada should be celebrated and be given a spotlight especially in times like today where in the USA divisive politics are taking center stage and spreading.
The links between the 19th century Kingdom of Punjab and present day Canada can be used in the community to help educate the next generation of kids of there ancestors virtues and connections to modern Canada and its way of life. We have met with UBCs South Asian Studies department, we want to work towards getting this film into the curriculum.
Canada is a multicultural mosaic and deeply secular society. Our country is an eclectic mix of the indigenous first nations peoples and immigrants from every continent. Canada allows people to live freely and avoid the fear of hate fueled bloodshed or persecution. Regardless of gender, religion, or social status any Canadian can strive to achieve success and not live under the boot of oppression. These ideologic virtues of equality, diversity, and harmony that Canada is respected around the world for were championed in the Kingdom in the early1800s. At a time when slavery was still existed.
With our interviews we will be set dressing the room to reflect the expertise of the interviewee, and will be utilizing a dramatic lighting scheme to meld our interviews into the dramatic quality of our re-enactments. Additionally, we’ll be utilizing longer lenses to compress are frames to add a cinematic quality to our interviewees.
By utilizing the assets of the Panjab Digital Library we will be able to use artwork from the 18th, and 19th century to help craft authentic enactments from the colourful garb, rugs, and drapes. We will capture the past accurately and connect it to our colourful and diverse contemporary Canadian path.
Punjab was under constant attack from the Afghan invasions. To survive the people banded together and joined under Ranjit Singh to defend against the marauders and looters. To display these acts of solidarities we intend to use silhouettes and shadows to show the figures of battle effectively. Our concept of "dark side" and "light side" for our silhouettes and shadows motif will allow us to show the duality of these events. The pride in defending the defenceless, but the fear of death during the colonial age of oppression. Connecting to Canadas armed forces, one of the most diverse in the world
To help create the bridge between our South Asian past and our Canadian present/future we will be juxtaposing footage from key historic sites of Ranjits Kingdom with iconic symbols of Canada. Connecting the dots in where both nations had shared values of diversity, acceptance, secularity, and peacekeeping. We will be focusing on the multicultural harmony of Ranjit's kingdom to our contemporary Canadian community and will be combining footage from our archive with b-roll footage filmed on location in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
Production Design and Visual lighting will go hand in hand for our dramatic re-enactments. The kingdom was a place of equality for Women and Men, and many of the Queens of Ranjits Kingdom set out to help empower the poor and use there position of power for good. The women of the kingdom were strong and independent. One notable one being Moran Sarkar she was known for her philanthropic acts and social change. To display the beauty and regal appearance of Moran we will be crafting a visual style that radiates cinema while also having the appropriate wardrobe and set design.
In both Canada, and the Kingdom of Punjab people from different walks of life came together to create a peaceful society, regardless of religion, social status, or race both nations were welcoming and loving places. We intend to capture the diversity of the citizens who come from these different walks of life. From the King of the empire to Canadas Prime Minister to the average farmer or worker. Our Production Design will focus on keeping the locations authentic and true to life.
Good B-Roll is and integral part of any great documentary. By utilizing drone footage, and on the ground stabilized gimbal footage we will be able to tell our story with breathtaking visuals. We will be combining B-roll from Ranjits kingdom with B-Roll from Vancouver and the surrounding British Columbian interior to help tell our story authentically. This photo was taken by us in January 2018. During Ranjit Singhs reign he made this spirtual place, the Harmandir Sahib a golden place when he enshrined it with gold leaf and marble.
Visually we will be using a technique of spilt screening an inspiration from one of our favorite documentary filmmakers, the legendary Errol Morris. Spilt screening will allow us to juxtapose between our interviewees, b-roll, and re-enactments. This will help us further create visual connections between different aspects of our subject matter.
The main audience to target will be in the Lower Mainland, the thriving South Asian community has a large presence here and universities such as UBC, SFU, and UFV have also expressed interest in this documentary project as a teaching tool for there students. Our main age demographics will be for Youth ages 12-17 and Adults aged 18-65 and communites of all faiths (Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Catholic, etc)
They're roughly 2 million South Asians across Canada coast to coast. With Vancouver/Surrey, Toronto/Brampton being densely populated areas. With this project we will be able to communicate the rich history of these South Asians while also underscoring the importance of the diverse Canadian values we all hold dear to our hearts.
Ranjit Singhs kingdom of Punjab had over 100 westerners immigrate and have important positions in the government/society. South Asians aren’t the only Canadian we hope to reach. Many of the great contributors to this era were Caucasian immigrants from Europe and the United States including Alexander Gardner, Jean Francois Allard, Paolo Avitabile, and Jean-Baptiste Ventura. We want to show the strength both the Kingdom of Punjab, and Canada have had with many of our parents and ancestors being immigrants to these lands.
By having a behind the scenes photographer/videographer we’ll be able to document the making of the documentary and have additional promotional material preceding the air date of the finished documentary.
"Stories mode" is a daily updated platform across social media. Stories mode features clips and photos that last for 24 hours and notify followers when they are uploaded, the expiry date entices social media audiences to engage to not miss out on a post that will expire. We will be able to implement this feature daily to engage audience members, it functions as daily promotional plan.
The original soundtrack will be composed in house by our composer “EMPWR” the original soundtrack will be promoted and released as an additional promotional item. To incentivise seeing the finished documentary we plan on having a digital album code available for audience members.
By utilizing our network we’ll be able to promote “Lions Rise” on a plethora of platforms and to different communities. The Chosen Khan Podcast (5,531 Instagram followers) The People of the Community Podcast (6,235 Youtube subscribers) and Saint Lions Podcast (22k followers) allows us to spread the project to our target audiences.
In an effort to reach the larger lower mainland community we will be preparing press releases on “Lions Rise” to peak the interest of the spotlight we're shining on this history with the airing on Telus OptikTV. We hope to approach TV and radio news broadcasters including CBC, Global, CTV, RED FM, The Province, The Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Strait, and radio shows such as CBC’s “On the Coast” would also be sent the press release to cover any story. With any one of these media entities we would help promote the project, and get the word out to our target audience.