Once known for its thriving trade routes and culture, Afghanistan has now become known for its turbulent political history, causing many Afghans to migrate. Most of the migration is said to have occurred during the civil-war years and under Taliban rule.
Thousands of miles away from the homeland, however, a small community of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have preserved the culture and traditions of the dwindling community.
In this documentary, Pritpal Singh focuses, again, on the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities, but this time through the lens of Afghan immigrants to the United Kingdom, particularly Southall.
By carefully juxtaposing the lives left behind, with lives in the adopted homes, the sacrifices and struggles of the communities are masked with vibrant displays of faith, music, food and dance.
The documentary also presents rare video footage of the Sikh traditions in Kabul in the late 1980s, alongside Ardas, in the nearly empty diwan halls of Kabul today, and the vibrant and overflowing Hall of Gurudwara Southall, London.
With touching depictions of the dilapidated mandirs and Gurudwaras in Kabul and impressive retention of their roots across generations on foreign soil, Bechthold and Singh share the story of immigrants who are rarely covered in Afghan mainstream media or Sikh media.
Sikhs have been a vital part of the Afghan community. With interjections by historian Harbans Singh Handa, the audience learns of the various political positions held by Sikhs over the years in Afghanistan, even visiting the British home of the third Sikh Member of Parliament of Afghanistan, Gajender Singh.
Strongly reflecting Afghan pride and ancestry, the documentary is primarily filmed in Dari (Farsi) with English narration.
Hindu Kush to Thames is filmed and directed by Ariadne Bechthold with the support of the Gharghasht Gharghakht, Afghan Voice Radio (UK) and Ajmeet Singh/Flo Studio. Reflecting the shared sense of nostalgia among all Afghans, the documentary shows their connectedness with home.
Often mistaken to have immigrated from India, this is the story of Afghanistan’s religious minorities who have immigrated to London and made a name for themselves.