Breakaway – College Essay

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Breakaway is classified as a Canadian hockey movie, released in September 2011. This movie stars Vinay Virmani as the lead character Rajveer Singh, Camilla Belle as Reena, Russell Peters as Reena’s fiance, Anupam Kher is Raj’s father Mr. Singh, and Rob Lowe as Coach Dan Winters. Robert Lieberman is the director and it is produced by Akshay Kumar and Paul Gross. Breakaway is at first glance a movie about hockey, but you quickly learn that hockey is merely one aspect of this movie.

There is a lot to think about when watching this movie; cultural, racial, ethnic differences are all at play here. Breakaway shows you how quickly and easily people can judge based on appearances, without any knowledge of an individual, their culture or ethnic background, and not give people a chance simply because they are not like you or what you have become accustomed. The movie is based around the Singh family; the journey Raj Singh, the son, takes to follow his dream of being a hockey player and all of the obstacles him and his team faces to accomplish this dream.

The characters in the movie are Raj Singh, his parents Darvesh and Livleen, his little brother Gurveer, Uncle Sammy, Cousin Reena, Reena’s Fiance Sonu, Coach Dan Winters, Melissa the Coaches sister, the hockey team made up of Raj’s family and friends whom are all Sikh’s and the Hammerhead’s hockey team they play against. The Singh’s are a large Sikh Indian family. Sikh men do not cut their hair, mustache or beard and they cover their hair with turbans.

Most of the men in the Singh family work for the family trucking business Speedy Singh’s, which is owned by the Uncle. Raj’s father wants him to be a part of the family business so that he may one day take over, however, Raj has different plans and his father is totally against. Going against his father’s wishes and demands, with the support of his uncle and most of the other family members, Raj decides to try out for a local hockey team, the Hammerheads.

The team member along with the coach of the Hammerheads, all make fun of Raj and his friends practicing at the local hockey rink and even knock the guys around a bit. Raj convinces the coach that he is good enough to play and to give him a try. Even though Raj was the best player on the ice, he got pretty banged up by the guys and he still managed to score the only goal. The team along with the coach walked off the ice and the coach tells Raj that he never would have made the team and that he should not feel ad.

Raj and his fellow hockey players, all of which were Sikh’s decided to form their own team and join the local hockey tournament, they knew this was the only way they would get to play because no other team believed that Indians could play hockey. The team began to practice at the local ice rink, this is where Dan Winters had once again seen Raj and his team and would now take on the task of becoming their coach. Coach Winters was once the number two drafted hockey rookie of the year.

The team never wore normal hockey regulation helmets, they stuck to their traditional turbans. Once of the things along with their accents had brought them discrimination. Reena, Raj’s cousin and also a local news reporter was also facing her own discrimination from the news station and told her boss that she was not doing another story on curry. Her fiance Sonu, who worked for the family business was threatened by her cousin Raj because he thought Raj would be the one selected to run the family business.

Sabotage was the name of his game, trying to make sure that Raj’s father knew about him playing hockey even though he demanded that he stop, this was not an acceptable career choice for a traditional Sikh. After a fundraiser thrown by the Uncle and raising enough money, the team now named the Speedy Singh’s were able to get uniforms, practicing and even land a scrimmage game against the Hammerheads. During the scrimmage, the Speedy Singh’s got beat up pretty bad and realized they needed more work then they initially thought in order to really compete in the tournament.

Raj’s father was upset that he had been lied to by his son and that he was disobeyed by his continuing to play hockey. While all of the commotion of Raj playing hockey, no one noticed that Raj’s little brother had been having problems of his own, he was being bullied every day in school because of his turban and his culture. Traditional Sikh men do not cut their hair and Raj had already disrespected his family’s culture by cutting his and refusing to wear a turban. Raj was able to talk his brother out of making the same mistake.

Once the Speedy Singh’s began playing in games, they were getting better, even winning games and becoming local celebrities. Reena does a news story on the team and local Indian community celebrated but this did not stop the discrimination. They continued to win and eventually make it to the finals where they were up against the Hammerheads. This is the same team that had picked on them for their culture, their turbans and had knocked them around and beat them up when they played. The hammerheads filed a complaint against the Speedy Singh’s because they refused to remove their turbans and wear helmets.

Raj found helmets that the team could wear without removing their traditional headwear and the finals were on. During the final, the game was tied up at the end of the fourth quarter and went into sudden death where Raj was able to score the winning goal. His father had changed his mind and come to see him play and was there to witness him making the winning goal and the Speedy Singh’s won 3-2. This movie dives into the sports culture, where being a part of a team can also mean you must be just like the other members of the team.

It can be hard for someone who is different to be given a chance to get inside the circle or be accepted as part of the team. Being a Sikh Indian, Raj was not given a true opportunity to show the Hammerheads that he could play simply because of his Indian culture and this is not what they had been taught a hockey play looks like. Turbans and accents are not the usual in hockey, this is typically a white male sport and it is hard for some to allow something new into their world. Clothing is big in popular culture, turbans are not something that is the norm in American popular culture.

In India, there is approximately two percent of the population that are Sikh’s and wear turbans. Reena also experienced some difficulties on her job as a news reporter, only being given assignments that are stereotypical for an Indian based upon what they know or believe about a person’s culture. News media is a large part of our popular culture and some will believe that a person of a specific culture, such as an Indian woman should only do stories about cooking with curry or the clothing, things they would perceive an Indian woman would know about.

The most prominent issue in the movie was not about race but just ethnicity in general. The white team, made assumptions about the Indian team based on their appearance, their difference from what society expects a hockey player to look like. Indian men should not know how to play hockey because this sport belongs to white males and for this reason, they Speedy Singh’s had to prove themselves worthy by winning the tournament. Race was the least seen issue, it was not about their race but the traditions which the Indian culture is known.

However, Raj’s father did not want him to date Melissa simply because she was white and their culture seeks to marry within their own race and culture. In our popular culture today, there are many different types of relationships show, not just interracial but gay and lesbian as well. If you think about the fact that the Speedy Singh’s being given a hard time because of their culture and relate it to the movie Forest Gump, Forest was not given a chance to play football until he ran past all the players on the field.

Forest was a white male, same as the football team, but he was different because of how he talked and his mental ability. If one were to look at this movie from a feminist sociological perspective, two things would stand out. Reena’s fiance Sonu wanted her to be more of a domestic like her mother and aunts, a traditional Indian woman; instead of her working and having a better career than her. Also, Raj’s mother would never have a say in his playing hockey, the father set the rules and she was made to abide by them.

From a conflict perspective, I saw how the ethnical differences were played upon and the white hockey players were expected to be great, to be better simply because they were white and this is what a hockey play is supposed to look like. So the fact that the Indian team won was shocking. Also, knowing that other countries have their own system of who they believe to be higher culture or better and it can also be based upon racial or ethnical or cultural lines. There are always stereotypes and sometimes they are based on race or ethnicity, we must work to change that.

References

http://adaniel.tripod.com/sikhism.htm

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