Playing a soft-spoken Sikh cab driver in his latest movie, Sir Ben Kingsley has described the feeling of the turban on his head as “really gratifying” and termed the discrimination and racial abuse faced by the community in the US as “totally regrettable.”
Kingsley plays Darwan Singh Tur in the movie ‘Learning to Drive’ which also features Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson and 'Mississippi Masala' actress Sarita Choudhury.
Kingsley plays a soft-spoken and righteous cab driver, proud of his Sikh identity, who settles in New York after getting political asylum in the country. Apart from working as a cab driver, Tur is also a driving instructor.
Kingsley said city-based social activist Harpreet Singh Toor provided valuable help during the shooting of the movie, telling him about the minute mannerisms of a Sikh and helping him tie the turban.
“To feel the tightness of (the turban) on my head was really gratifying. As Sikhs are warriors, I felt I was putting on my armour, which is a glorious feeling,” Kingsley told a select group of media persons during an interaction here.
He said the Sikh community in New York was "very generous" during the filming of the movie and invited the crew to shoot scenes in the local Gurudwara.
"The crew was so grateful to have had the opportunity to work there. The temple is a beautiful island of order, decency, worship and family in a sea of neurosis. It is a calm island in the middle of Queens," he said.
The movie also throws light on the persecution faced by the Sikh community in India, a reason that forces Kingsley's character to seek political asylum in the US.
It also touches upon the issue of discrimination and racial profiling faced by members of the Sikh community in America, particularly after 9/11.
“It is totally regrettable,” said Kingsley at the interaction when asked about the discrimination and racial abuse that members of the Sikh community continue to face, particularly in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.