Sikh fashionista in ‘The Life Aquatic’

Waris Singh Ahluwalia plays a henchman in oddball auteur Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Life Aquatic, with Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. Anderson also directed The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore and Bottle Rocket.

Ahluwalia was last spotted in a recent Time Out fashion spread pimped out urbanwear and turban. He doffs the pug in one scene, but manages to preserve his manly modesty under a neoprene scuba suit (clip 1, clip 2).

It’s not clear whether this is the same Waris Singh Ahluwalia who reported a hate crime in NYC a few months after 9/11:

Four friends and myself walked into Joe’s Pizza on Carmine + Bleeker. About a minute after we arrived, a man standing a few feet away from me looked at me and said “You’re the perfect target.” He smiled as he said this… He walked by close, smiled and repeated the same thing- “You’re the perfect target.” Before he got to finish saying it he punched me in the face.


Also check out the Sikh couple in the ‘Welcome to Atlanta’ booty video by Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris:


Are these Sikh actors being used as silent, exotic henchmen? Probably. But any exposure in a non-bad guy role is a good thing.

11 thoughts on “Sikh fashionista in ‘The Life Aquatic’

  1. I dont think it has much to do with tokenism. I think it has much to do with the producers and artists British Sikh community working American Hip Hop dudes. Panjabi MC has worked with Jay Z and Twista, Timbaland recently went shopping in Southall London with Jay Sean, the Kray Twinz, who are Sikh bhangra/Hip Hop producers are working with DMX, and appeared in the Mark Ronson/Ghostface Killa video, plus Ludacris namechecked Panjabi Hit Squad, who are signed to Def Jam UK.

    So its got to do with the appearence of so many British Sardarjis on the music scene. Why British Sikhs have created such a vibrant and influential music scene is another story.

  2. As far as Wes Anderson goes, he also cast a pair of South Asians in The Royal Tenenbaums, so I’m not sure there’ll be a silent henchman role. Kumar Pallana and Dipak Pallana, who are apparently longtime friends of Anderson, were cast in the film. Dipak Pallana plays a tennis player who defeats Richie Tenenbaum in his last pro match. In a much larger role, Kumar Pallana plays Royal Tenenbaum’s faithful assistant, and has gone on to get roles in other films such as The Terminal.

  3. Actually all Wes Anderson films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and Royal Tenenbaums) have had Kumar Pallana in some type of role.

  4. Actually, I think Waris plays a silent role b/c he doesn’t show up in the cast list for the movie. My guess is that he’s not a member of Equity (damn unions), and so the way around that is to not have him speak! [Besides which, I don't know him, but it might ruin the orientalism if he speaks with an American accent]

  5. It’s anthropologically interesting how similar Ghostface Killa’s style is to the Kray Twinz (photo from Punjabi Boy). The beard is for the same original purpose, to project fierceness and virility. The head covering, of course, isn’t.

  6. You sure, why would such a major person be in NYC, and why hasn’t his Celebrity freinds helped make America aware that:

    99% of Turbaned Americans are Sikhs, Sikhs are not Muslims!

    Hate Crime is evil, but ignorrant hatecrime as in Mistaken Identity of a Religion is double fold EVIL!