SINDHUSTAN is a uniquely intimate first-person documentary on the scattered culture and historic migration of the Sindhi people, most of whom relocated, en masse, to India from Pakistan, during the Partition of British India in 1947.

Director Sapna Bhavnani retraces the little-known history of her own Sindhi roots, inking this fresh map of knowledge onto her skin in the form of tattoos.

Sapna’s director’s statement may well sum the film up better than any other words, written by any other person could. She wrote:

“A decade or so ago, I was visiting India after living in America for 14 years. My body by then was considerably inked. One afternoon while lunching with my ‘nani’ (maternal grandmom), an inked woman herself, I found myself desperately trying to cover my inked body. She knew. She caressed my ink, smiled gently, and said, “Sapna, you’re so old fashioned”.

You know, when we first came as a human race, we all had our markings, we all looked like you. Somewhere down the line we were told to wear clothes instead, shoes instead. Somewhere down the line, someone decided that’s how we were supposed to look. I’m happy to see you going back to our roots, your roots.” And this entire time I was getting inked rebelling Indina culture and expectations of being and looking like an “Indian” woman!

This was the afternoon that changed me forever.

My documentary includes stories from India and Sindh (Pakistan) and mine illustrating their journey on my skin using art forms like Arjak (Sindhi) and Madhubani (India) to tell the story of a land carried on the shoulders of its people and not rooted in any soil. My legs, symbolising our journey and my feet, the lack of our roots.”

The multi-award winning film has taken prizes along its own journey including

WINNER – Best Documentary Feature, Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (2019)

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary Theme, Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival (2020)

WINNER – Best Historical Narrative, Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival (2019)

WINNER – Best Documentary Feature, New York Indian Film Festival (2019)

“A bit like looking through the magical lens of a kaleidoscope- each time your eyes shift or your perspective changes, there is new information. Sometimes disconcerting, sometimes sheer poetry.” —Deepa Mehta, film director.

“Over a span of 10 days of non-stop pain, she says she turned into a human map of Partition, a museum of memory.” — Firstpost

Documentary / 2019 / 64 minutes / English w/English sub-titles / a film by Sapna Moti Bhavnani


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Watch the trailer