AMERICAN SIKH Review: “… Dedicated to Every American Who’s Felt Unwelcome Or Unwanted”

AMERICAN SIKH is the visual memoir of a crusading raconteur with the soul and essence of an empath.

Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth are conveyed with such exceptional cinematic-animated finesse in this film that the result is remarkable documentary story telling in an inimitable style about Vishavjit Singh, who after a lifetime of encountering ferocious prejudice and bigotry, as well as contending with nagging self-doubt, catapults iconically to a superhero status, weaponizing him to fight the tyrannies of malevolent and poisonous isms seething in this country.


The film’s powerful, animated storytelling prowess can make many in the audience feel as if they are experiencing a sublime, full-length feature film even though the film has a running time shy of 10 minutes. For this reviewer, that is a hell of an accomplishment in a production that short. This is a Must-See.

When he was growing up in India, Vishavjit Singh witnessed a massacre of Sikhs and he hoped one day to return to the United States where he was born ­– the land of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and where he anticipated sanctuary from the atrocities that he and his family had fled. They did escape unharmed.

When he arrived with them in America, he was stunned that he was treated cruelly as an other, someone inferior and undeserving of respect in the land of his birth.

That sucked him into an agonizing emotional vortex.  He experienced his religious and national identities wrenching and conflicting. Singh set off on a journey to find himself. That journey was challenged in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Anti-Sikh violence erupted. Unwilling to give up his identity, yet, frustrated by the hate he daily faced, Vishavjit began to dress as a superhero. Singh made the world about him see him the way that he wanted it to see him by tripping up, to his surprise, the terrorist stereotype pox of hate and rancor he other Sikhs experienced.

The film score is priceless. The Punjab has diverse ranging from folk and Sufi to classical, notably the Patiala gharana. Contemporary Punjabi music has tended to include more modern hip-hop and R&B sounds.Sikhs attach great importance to music and regard it as one of the means of communion with God. The Sikh Gurus. from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, gave music an honored place in their religion.

Sikhism in the United States

Background Information Based on Production Notes

This film highlights the need for more inclusive narratives this AAPI Heritage Month.


Vishavjit Singh is Captain America, with the  persona of a turban and bearded Sikh, standing his ground against bigotry, intolerance and misperceptions of what an American should look like. But Singh, the only member of his family born in the United States, didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity this way.

AMERICAN SIKH premieres at the OSCAR-qualifying Tribeca Film Festival and can be seen at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday June 10 at 5:15 p.m., Sunday June 11 at 2:15 p.m. and Saturday June 17 at 12:15 p.m. The film was created in partnership with Singh as the producer and Los Angeles-based director Ryan Westra. It was animated by Studio Showoff, a Melbourne-based production house founded by Ivan Dixon and Sean Zwan that has produced work for Childish Gambino, HBO and Cartoon Network.

Director Ryan Westra has traveled rural Punjab capturing undocumented stories of a Sikh genocide and documenting the struggle of indigenous peoples against oil companies in Montana, followed the HIV/AIDS outreach work of an NGO in Mozambique, edited an HBO feature documentary on reproductive rights, filmed the intensity of para-athletes pushing their limits, shot content for Headspace around a monastery in the Himalayas about mindfulness, shot a documentary about re-housing the most at-risk homeless in Los Angeles, and has had minor roles on Netflix and HBO series that deal with wrongful conviction and bringing cult leaders to justice.

Director/Producer Vishavjit Singh is a New York City based illustrator, writer, performance artist, diversity speaker and creator of He got his spark for cartooning in the post 9/11 tragedy when Americans with turbaned and bearded countenance became targets of hate/bias crimes.  For the past few years Vishavjit has been traveling across the U.S. with his Sikh Captain America persona armed with a turban, beard and humor to tackle fear, anxiety, bigotry and intolerance.

He uses storytelling as a tool to create a space for challenging conversations around identity, race, bias, vulnerability and how to be agents for change. Vishavjit hosts talks & keynotes in schools, universities, government agencies and companies including Google, Apple, NASA & Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. His message and work has been covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Time Magazine.

Tribeca Fest Billboard: AMERICAN SIKH


Gregg W. Morris can be reached at,