Surrey resident Inderveer Sodhi (third from left) and other actors in a scene from “Monster,” a movie that Sodhi wrote and directed.

Surrey resident Inderveer Sodhi (third from left) and other actors in a scene from “Monster,” a movie that Sodhi wrote and directed.

Surrey filmmaker creates ‘Monster’ movie about gang life in the city

Fleetwood resident Inderveer Sodhi wrote, directed and stars in his coming-of-age fictional drama

As Surrey continues to deal with gang crime and related gunfire, one local filmmaker has created a movie that offers an empathetic view of one young man who struggles in a life of violence.

Inderveer Sodhi doesn’t glorify gangster life in Monster, his directorial debut, and it’s not an action flick.

Instead, he tells the story of how a boy becomes a man, and how his relationships change with his mother, friends and others.

The set-in-Surrey Monster stars Sodhi as Harman, who is shown at age 10, 18 and 20.

Harman’s relationship with his mom is driven by Sodhi’s own story, but all other characters in the fictional drama are a composite of people he knew growing up and those he saw on the news.

Sodhi also wrote the script and created the music for Monster, which debuted at Guildford’s Landmark Cinemas with two screenings in October.

The film was also shown at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, held at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre from Nov. 14 to 17.

Sodhi, who lives in the Fleetwood area, is elated by the positive response to his feature film.

“The premiere at the Landmark theatre, it went insanely well, and both shows sold out in a minute,” he said.

“There were so many challenges and things going against the making of this film, so then to see the reaction it’s had, it’s amazing and very motivating to me, and gives me a lot of confidence to make my next film.”

(WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW INCLUDES COARSE LANGUAGE)

In the spring of 2018, Sodhi set out to make a movie that captured “the ongoing gang violence scene among Indo-Canadian teenagers here in Surrey,” he told the Now-Leader at the time.

“I believe this is a socially-relevant story and a burning cause that our community should be aware about,” Sodhi continued. “Often throughout the years, many filmmakers have attempted to tell these stories but unfortunately do not do justice to the South Asian culture, representing the city accurately and, worst of all, glamorize the violence.”

A fundraising effort was launched on Indiegogo, and the release of the movie was planned for the fall of 2019.

The total budget was around $4,000, said Sodhi, who is 21.

“The film is made by me and people around my age, about 30 of us,” he noted. “Everybody volunteered time to put this together.”

He leads an ensemble cast of 14 actors in an 81-minute movie that features both English and Punjabi languages, with some subtitles.

A description of the film on imdb.com offers this: “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,” and the website also shows 159 behind-the-scenes photos.

Sodhi says many people caught in up in gang life have as close of a relationship with their mothers as he does, and that was part of his inspiration to create Monster.

“I didn’t want to make a documentary,” he told CBC Vancouver in a recent interview, “I wanted to create something where people could see themselves in the characters and reflect and think, ‘You know what, if something had happened just slightly different with me, I could have been that’ or, ‘That could have happened to me.’”

Sodhi said another screening of Monster is planned at the Landmark Cinema in Guildford on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m., and that his film will stream on Amazon Prime by the end of that month.

The trailer for Monster is posted to inderveersodhi.com., along with several other videos about Sodhi, the making of the movie and related music.

“It’s been an insane journey,” an emotional Sodhi told the audience before the Oct. 17 premiere of the film in Guildford.

“I just want to thank God for this moment because it’s really, really unreal to have your film playing in a theatre with this crowd, and to have sold out the shows in under a minute, for both shows – thank you, to the universe, for that.

Sodhi continued.

“You know what’s very interesting is that I didn’t think that it was really possible to get to be here right now, with the situation that I was in, with just being 21, self-funded the project, all the people that were involved with this were involved on a volunteer basis, so that’s a huge deal. This was a community project and (everyone) spent days and nights for six months last summer, rehearsing, and it started off as an idea, and that idea was put onto paper in a week – I wrote the script in a week. My next script will take me seven months, so it’s almost like this project had to be done, it was meant to be for this year, in this time period, with these people.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

At least one person received life-threatening injuries when a car collided with a semi truck in South Surrey on Friday morning. (Brenda Anderson photo)
South Surrey crash sends one to hospital in critical condition

Road closures in effect after collison between car and semi-truck

Inspector Cliff Chastellaine, of the Surrey RCMP Major Crime Unit, announced Tuesday (March 10, 2020) that Surrey RCMP is partnering with the Bolo Program to find Meaz Nour-Eldin, who was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. On Dec. 4, 2020, Surrey RCMP announced Nour-Eldin had been arrested. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
RCMP say man, wanted in connection to a Surrey kidnapping, has been arrested

Police say Meaz Nour-Eldin was ‘hiding-out’ in Montreal

Gurbaz Singh, deli manager at the Cloverdale Country Market, arranges some gifts in the back of a vintage car. The car is part of the Cloverdale Country Market’s “December to Remember” picture taking area. The market is encouraging people to come down, snap some Christmas pics and share them on social media. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
PHOTOS: Cloverdale Country Market creates Christmas picture space

Market cancels annual Christmas Craft Fair, replaces it with Christmas picture zone

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey school district sends out 16 exposure notices overnight

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Fresgo Inn chef/owner Walter Wolff in the kitchen of the self-serve restaurant in Whalley. “I’ve got no plan for the retirement,” he says. “My customers always ask me, but as long as I feel good, healthy, I like to come here.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
VIDEO: Hungry like the (Walter) Wolff at Surrey diner he’s had cooking for 40 years

But lately, COVID-19 has soured business at Fresgo Inn and other B.C. restaurants

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 3) after an inmate escaped from corrections officers. The man was taken back into custody a short while later. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Prisoner shot at by guards in Abbotsford had history of escapes

Stephane Bissonnette escapes from corrections officers, but is arrested a short while later

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read