Surrey Filmmaker Portrays Gang Violence from a First-Person Perspective with Monster

A local filmmaker aims to portray the unfiltered side of Surrey with his new film

Monster, directed by Inderveer Sodhi, aims to break down misconceptions about gang life in Surrey. (submitted)

The film Monster reveals a different side to Surrey’s gang violence while crushing the “Surrey jack” stereotype.

Earlier in January, local filmmaker, actor and writer Inderveer Sodhi released the film Monster which only took six days to film.

The movie can now be watched on YouTube and Prime Video, and it’s based on a coming-of-age story and it’s filmed in Surrey.

The film’s protagonist is Harman which is played by Sodhi. Harman is a young second-generation South-Asian man who grows up in Surrey. He is emotionally reserved and often spends time with a group of friends who lead him to gang-related activities.

The tagline of the film reads: “After losing his innocence, his best friend, and the love of his adolescence, this coming-of-age gangster drama follows Harman in an hour of his night within a new life of violence.”

“It was a very nice experience, to be honest, there [were] no issues filming in Surrey. It can be difficult, just filming your first film or being an independent filmmaker because it can be more difficult to acquire permission to film at certain locations,” says Sodhi.

He explains that Surrey has a lot of beneficial factors that make it easy to film in the city compared to other places. Sodhi says that Surrey is very diverse, as one can travel to different places within the city and they all have a different look to them.

The film focuses on the tight relationship Harman has with his mother. Through his younger years and towards his teenage years, his mother becomes his rock.

“I have always had this notion of mothers [losing] their sons and they can’t get them back, I always try to relate that to my mom, if she ever lost me, how would she feel?” says Sodhi.

The film featured local second-generation young South-Asian adults. Sodhi explains that he wants his audience to change their perspective on Surrey and of individuals who are labelled as “Surrey jacks” or “Surrey gangsters.”

“I often get asked what inspired me to make this film because usually, people ask me if I have experienced gang life and truthfully no I haven’t. So I get asked why this specific topic? I think it’s because regardless if you are in gang violence or not, I think my generation, of first-generation Canadians whose parents are immigrants, I think the boys in South-Asian households tend to have a very strong relationship with their mother,” says Sodhi.

The inspiration for the film also came from how he felt Surrey was being portrayed unjustly in the media. He explains that the people in Surrey and the city itself almost always became subject to parody in the media.

The movie was featured at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, which was held at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage on Nov. 16, 2019.

The movie plays with different camera angles and it offers long scenes that reveal the personality of the characters.

“When you see you see Harman in his earlier stages the contrast is extreme between how he is now and how he used to be and I just want to play on that because I think everyone can connect to that emotion,” says Sodhi.

“People think that they need to be surrounded by certain kinds of people to feel like they belong, I feel that Harman’s character is someone who feels like they need to be tough… so he surrounds himself with other people who put on that toughness,” says Sodhi.

He says he has been surprised about how amazing the film has been doing, he says that he is getting a lot of positive comments about the film.

“I don’t think that gang violence, in our generation has to do with organized crimes. [It’s] more like stupid people doing stupid things for stupid reasons. It’s just driven by ego or driven by small petty issues,” says Sodhi.