Director’s Statement

When I was sixteen, I was sitting in my economics class quietly contemplating what I was going to do after school. The class was loud, but when the bell rang the teacher walked in and eventually quieted the commotion. “Sit down! What are you doing there, badmash!” Having no real interest in talking about graphs or the economic meltdown, a bunch of us tried to distract the teacher by having her go into tangents about political views, sports, gossip around school, monkey attacks, embarrassing moments — literally anything to deter a quiz or test. Little did I know that the story she would tell would change my life forever.

She recounted a time when she took a group of students on an annual field trip to a different part of the country. The same day our Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated and communal riots against Sikhs were instigated. Violence raged everywhere, and amidst the chaos she had to safely come back to school with the students. The real problem, however, was that one of her students was a Sikh boy and in this environment his life was in grave danger. As she proceeded to tell us this story, my eyes widened, and images jumped through my head. It was probably the most attention I had ever given in an economics classroom.

Years later, this story has continued to resonate with me. The moment I heard it, I knew this was a film that had to be made. What attracted me to this story the most was that despite the political and religious overtones running through it, ultimately it had nothing to do with either. It was simply a human story about compassion – some people being compassionate from the first moments, to most people having to learn it. This story was essentially a fairytale about a group of young kids lost in the wild, just trying to make their way back home in a dangerous world.

Today Sikhs are yet again facing persecution throughout the world. Just recently in Wisconsin, USA, numerous Sikhs were killed in a Gurudwara. While this makes the film more relevant in today’s times, I would like to believe this story is not restricted to Sikhism or any religion, but is universal. We have seen people like this before rise up and help in times of suffering. The teacher in the film might as well be Oscar Schindler and the setting, Nazi Germany.

This is a story that inspired me as a young boy, and now as I am older, I wanted to make a film that reflected how I felt about my homeland, India. The story left an indelible impression on me because it crossed ages, religions, and classes. It was a story that displayed courage and gave me a new role model.

While political tension was stifling our country and hatred infiltrated our people, I believe the true spirit of India was filled in the seats of that bus. I was lucky that day to be in that class, because I was able to hear a story that inspired me enough to want to share with the world.



The message behind the film is ultimately one of compassion. This universal story left an indelible impression on me because it transcended all ages, religions, and classes. While political tension was stifling our country and hatred infiltrated our people, I believe the true spirit of India was filled in the seats of that bus.