A Secret Language
Duration: 5:35 minutes
Producer/Director: Arti Jain
Harpreet Sangha, a ten year old takes us into the sweet and sour world of an Indian immigrant child in America. Harpreet like any other kid her age is animated and effervescent, yet some of her everyday concerns speak volumes about the long road to navigation of cultural identity in an alien land.
Harpreet’s parents migrated to the U.S.A fifteen years ago from a small village in Punjab, India. She and her brother were born here. Harpreet lives in a traditional joint family with her Uncle, Aunt and cousin. Bright and intelligent, Harpreet is puzzled by her mother’s insistence that she play only with girls. The only explanation she has is that girls from “other” cultures act older than their age and are “different” from her. She knows that, unlike her brother, her birthday will not be celebrated and hopes that someday when she graduates she may have a party all for herself. She laments the fact that she is the only Indian girl in her school and unlike other girls who confide and communicate in their own language, she has no one who would understand her and share her thoughts in a “Secret Language”. Harpreet’s little disappointments and modest hopes make apparent the furtive ways in which patriarchy shapes the future of its women and how it is often intensified in an effort to maintain one’s “culture” far away from home.
A Secret Language was screened at the Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley as a part of the “Women of Color Film Festival 2004” and at San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival, 2004.