SIKH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2009: FEATURE
Flying Sikhs - A History of Sikh Fighter Pilots
Director: Navdeep Kandola; Producer: Clare Cooke;
Executive Producer: Sikh Art & Film Foundation
“Flying Sikhs – A History of Sikh Fighter Pilots” provides an intimate portrait of the Sikh pilots who contributed so valiantly to British success in World War I and World War II. The history of the Sikhs who flew in the Royal Flying Core, the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force has been forgotten, yet their bravery was recognized widely by both the military and the public during the dark days of the Blitz and the brutal Japanese invasion from the East.
Drawing on interviews with the last remaining pilots, rare and personal archive materials, and unseen footage, Flying Sikhs pays testimony to the brave and selfless contributions these unsung heroes made to the war efforts across the world.
The first ever Indian pilot to try to enlist as a pilot in WWI was Hardit Singh Malik, the only Indian pilot to miraculously survive the war and later went on to become PM of Patiala and High Commissioner to both Canada and France. We have firsthand accounts taken from the only TV interview of Sardar Malik and a rare interview with his daughter, Harji Malik.
We also include the last remaining Sikh pilots from WWII, Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh DFC and Mohinder Singh Pujji DFC, who are both now in their nineties. Air Marshall Arjan Singh led pilots in the Burmese front in the Second World War and later led the Indo-Pak and Indo-China air assaults. Pujji had an impeccable record for bravery and saved a 300 strong battalion of lost American soldiers that were given up for dead in the dense Burmese forests.
Although the countless other Sikh pilots from the great wars are now deceased, we do manage to recollect the histories of the more outstanding pilots such as Manmohan Singh, Mehr Singh DSO, Prithipal Singh and Air Marshall Shivdev Singh.
A historical documentary commemorating the valor and glory of true Khalsa warriors.
Navdeep Singh Kandola started out working on undercover TV documentaries for production companies in London and moved on to producing and directing his own documentaries. Growing up in the North of England but intermittently spending time living in Punjab gave him his fascination with first and second generation Diaspora communities.
While in Punjab Navdeep developed a close relationship with the Budha Dal Nihangs and has been shooting footage of them for over ten years - a personal project entitled “The Nihangs - A Secret History of the Sikhs”.
He won several awards for an ecological documentary about saving his ancestral farmland in Punjab with Hemp and also got a UNESCO film award in 2006 for a film about mixed race children. He directed his first fiction film, entitled Paki Slag, in 2006 and has just completed his second fiction film, Manali Cream, funded by the UK Film Council. He is currently developing a slate of feature film ideas.