Casting was nearly finalized on Ava DuVernay’s latest project, Home Sweet Home, a reality show where families of different backgrounds trade places, when tragedy struck.
In April 2021, a gunman fatally shot eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Many of the victims were of the Sikh faith, a religion and ethnic group founded in the Punjab region of India. Sikhs had worked at the facility for generations.
Upon hearing the news DuVernay recalculated the casting.
“More than half of the victims from that shooting were of the Sikh faith and so she responded back saying we must have a Sikh family on the show,” said Poly parent Bhajneet Singh on a recent Zoom call. “Ava told us, ‘We want the world to know who they are.’”
The Singh-Kaur family responded to the casting, answering an extensive questionnaire and interview process. Though they are a private family they felt participating wasn’t a matter of privacy, it was “life or death for the community.”
In July, the Singh-Kaurs welcomed cameras into their home for a week. The family includes parents Bhajneet and Natasha, Ajeet ’33, and his two younger siblings.
The show follows their family as they trade places with a reformed Jewish family in L.A. Through trading family homes, details about both families’ daily lives are uncovered, including religion, dietary preferences, and social lives.
Ajeet shared that he enjoyed making new friends through the show, and a highlight for him was trying the Slip ‘N Slide at the other house.
“It was the biggest learning thing that I’ve ever done in my life,” said Ajeet. “I liked meeting new friends and making new friends.”
The Sikh community features prominently in the show, with the Singh-Kaurs family and friends stepping in to share about their faith and tight community ties. Those who practice Sikhism do not cut their hair and men wear dastār, or tightly bound turbans as part of their faith.
During the show, a family member stepped in to say that Sikhs have solidarity with the Muslim community who also wear headwear related to their faith, as Sikhs are sometimes assumed to be Muslim.
“Many communities are affected by backlash when terrorist attacks happen in the U.S.,” said Natasha Kaur. “All of these communities including Sikhs, Muslims, and others are opposed to terrorism, and also bear the waves of hate crimes, backlash, and discrimination as a result of it.
Though the episode runs just 43 minutes, it provides an intimate and welcoming portrait of being a Sikh family in the U.S., one that we are proud to call a Poly family.
You can watch the episode “We Use a Lot of Shampoo” (episode 6) by creating an account on Peacock here.