Actor Draws Creates Film about Sikhs After 9/11, "The Gold Bracelet"

September 11, 2006

Source: The Argus

On September 11, 2006 The Argus reported, "When the time came for the world premiere of 'Terrorist Squad,' an action movie about a foiled plot to blow up Kokomo, Ind., actor Kavi Raz was conspicuously absent. 'I never saw the film,' said Raz, who is Indian but played a nefarious Libyan terrorist leader named Yassir in the 1987 film. 'I was probably the only actor who didn't go.'

The movie was not the finest for a man who began his acting career humbly at a community playhouse in Hayward, then landed a pioneering role on the TV show St. Elsewhere in 1982.

Playing a doctor on the hospital drama, Raz was proud to provide Indians in America what was scarce before: an ordinary version of themselves on prime-time television.

But when the show ended, Raz found himself back in the Hollywood doldrums. He followed the whims of studios that had become fascinated with terrorism after the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980. 'I went through many lean, frustrating years,' Raz said. 'I started getting a lot of these terrorist roles � B-grade movies in which I would play the lead terrorist. It was fun to play those characters at first, but they are all the same.'

Although Raz noticed a change in the way people reacted to his family, who are Sikhs, after the hostage crisis, nothing could prepare him for what happened after Sept. 11, 2001.

His father and mother, South Hayward residents since 1973, grew wary of leaving their home for fear of misdirected backlash, he said. Vandals painted a message on their white picket fence on Shepherd Avenue, incorrectly referring to them as Arabs and telling them to go home.

His father, Bakhshish Singh Dhugga, who has a long white beard and wears a turban, as is Sikh custom, painted the graffiti over, but vandals returned.

Raz had his own brush with post-Sept. 11 backlash that season. He said the FBI visited his home in Granada Hills, a Los Angeles suburb, after several neighbors called the agency to complain about the suspicious people frequenting the house. The agents quickly dropped the investigation after talking to him, Raz said... 'You can't blame the general population, the regular Joe across the street, without letting them know who you are,' he said. 'There's still a long way to go.'

After more than 25 years experiencing a mix of success and disappointments on Hollywood's periphery, Raz removed himself from the acting circuit. His first movie, 'The Gold Bracelet,' was completed early this year and has been shown at some film festivals."