Ocean of Pearls


Sikh men wear turbans because they never cut their hair. At the beginning of Ocean of Pearls, Amrit Singh (played by Omid Abtahi) wonders why his father (played by Ajay Mehta) still practices customs from the old country after all the effort to move to the new country, Canada, and he learns why in a dramatic scene toward the end of the film. Amrit, however, has become a surgeon par excellence, an expert in transplant surgery who had developed a technique to keep transplantable organs three times their normal four-hour life. A hospital in Detroit asks him to fly from Toronto to make a presentation on his new technique. His presentation goes so well that the hospital administrator, Dr. William Ballard (played by Ron Canada), asks him to name his price for moving to Detroit to head an $80 million facility that would be a premier transplant surgical clinic, an offer he cannot refuse. Politics intervenes, however. When another surgeon is appointed without his permission, he realizes that they are competing to head the facility, as the board has not yet decided who will be in charge. Because his rival, a Caucasian, makes the presentation to the principal donor, Amrit believes that he must cut his hair to increase his chances. He must also defer to another well-connected physician, whose competence is out of date. A side plot, involving a patient needing a liver transplant, reveals further politics. Although her insurance does not cover the operation, Amrit defies Dr. Ballard by secretly putting her name on the list for transplant eligibility and then performing the operation under his nose when a liver is found. The operation is a success, but Amrit realizes that his medical idealism is rooted in the core beliefs of the Sikh religion and must decide whether to compromise his identity any further to gain fame and fortune. The subtext of the film, directed by Sarab Neelam, is that the United States imposes assimilation on newcomers without reflection, whereas Canada has evidently learned the virtues of multiculturalism.  MH

Scroll to Top