In the aftermath of a hate crime, a Sikh American grapples with his fears and anxieties as he attempts to celebrate the 4th of July with his wife and infant son
As tensions rise through various microaggressions and racially charged encounters, a Sikh American makes a tragic decision that changes his identity forever. ‘PAGG’ explores the rising fear and anxieties of living in an America that is becoming more vitriolic and where people’s baser instincts are coming to the forefront.
Nardeep Khurmi directs a film that is deeply and emotionally charged, where the subtle pace and structure creates perspective we are not used to seeing.
Pagg was my response to the hate and fear that was curdling to the top of American society as a result of the 2016 election cycle. Hate crimes were on the rise, particularly against South Asians, but they were barely reported on until a shooting in Kansas City where a man ran into a bar and screamed “get out of my country” before killing a South Asian man. This particular hate crime seemed to hit the zeitgeist, and suddenly, the news began to report on hate crimes more frequently. Personally, the day after the election, I was walking down my neighborhood in the middle of Hollywood in Los Angeles when a couple of “good old boys” in a pick-up truck (I know, cliche) screamed “time to go home, Osama.” I hadn’t heard that kind of rhetoric directed towards me since the years following 9/11. And it was happening in a liberal city, no less. Pagg was my way of sorting through the anger and hopelessness I was feeling.
Pagg’s softer tone is intended to create an eye-opening experience for the audience through the eyes of a Sikh, who happens to be an average American. Being written from a personal experience, Nardeep certainly had a few things he wanted to accomplish with Pagg.
First, I wanted to shine a light on a marginalized and often maligned community that most people don’t know much about. Second, I wanted to show that though people may not be directly connected to these atrocities, they are nonetheless deeply affected. Finally, I wanted to show that we all share the same values despite differences in appearance.
When films deal with racism or hate crimes, there’s a risk of being heavy-handed and really hitting you over the head. Pagg was an attempt to deliver these ideas in a softer way, showcasing an average American going through his day, and how all the little things can build to a desperate choice. My ultimate goal was to make the audience empathize with Mandeep, a man who may not seem familiar at first glance, but lives his life and acts like any other American. By seeing the world through his eyes, you begin to feel the weight and burden that he lives his daily life under, and ultimately have an emotional reaction to his final decision, not because of plot or because you’re told it’s something that’s important, but because you’ve grown to care about him and his family through the course of the film, regardless of any differences you may personally have with him.