by Sarah Boesveld
Imagine if turning on a music television station was a socially constructive experience, where images of violence, racism and profanity ceased to exist.
Though the prospect appears foolishly idealistic, Rohan Bader argues it is completely possible, and that it takes only one act, and one person at a time, to make the world a better place.
As well as being an eternal optimist, Bader is a Ryerson film graduate and director of the experimental short film Westbound Eastbound.
The film saw its worldwide premiere at the Rebel International Film Festival last week, and Bader hopes his message of harmonious culture through the themes of multiculturalism and music shone through.
“There’s a lot of violence on TV, a lot of sex, a lot of drugs; (my video) is the opposite of that,” said Bader last Thursday night at the introduction of the seven-minute piece, which also doubled as his fourth-year thesis piece for an experimental film class at Ryerson.
Although Bader admires the directorial talent existing in the film market, it’s the seemingly dire need to pass off sex, violence, drugs and racism as entertainment that urges him to strive to make art more socially constructive.
“If we can make entertainment positive, our mentality towards it will change,” said Bader, who drew inspiration from Deepa Mehta’s Hollywood Bollywood, his own Indian background and his experiences growing up in Canada which he says is the “most multicultural country in the world.”
Westbound Eastbound isn’t the first instance of Bader’s socially conscious voice being expressed through film.
All of his past shorts have communicated the theme of peace and avoided swearing, racism, violence and sex.
Though too modest to admit it, the budding music video director has a few awards under his belt as well.
As a high school senior in 2000, Bader made a film called Images. He entered it in the Stop Racism March 21 contest and won the award, jump-starting his adventure into film studies at Ryerson.
Images was aired on MuchMusic, giving him his first exposure and inspiring him to do more. Bader also won awards at the Ontario Student Film Festival while at Ryerson.
Shot on the west-east running Sheppard subway line, Bader’s film depicts an energetic, multiethnic dance party. The film opens with an actor dressed in traditional Hindu garments, who then begins a whirlwind of song and dance filled with graceful twirls and bows.
Each actor is dressed as a “commuter” in an original style representing their dance form. The uplifting a powerful beat-box rhythms and Eastern style vocals of the song, composed specifically for the film, are what fuel the infectious nature of the commuters’ movements. The dance spreads as the groove is passed from one commuter to the next, giving each actor a spot in the limelight.
Ranging from hip hop to traditional Hindu dance, the choreography is one of the tools Bader uses to communicate his multiculturalism theme.
Bader likes to describe the film as a mix of the old and the new.
Though it received an overwhelming reception at the festival, Bader just hopes the film’s message makes its way into the minds of anyone who has encountered racism before.