Throughout his 40 years in showbiz, Sir Ben Kingsley has seen how racism plays out in the real world and on the big screen. And in his latest role as a turban-wearing Sikh driving instructor in “Learning to Drive,” he hopes to open a dialogue about the prejudices that exist in post-9/11 anti-Muslim sentiments.
“I have studied horrendous human prejudice against other people and it shocks,” Kingsley tells Made in Hollywood. The Oscar winner has starred in three Holocaust films, including “Murderers Among Us," "Schindler’s List" and “Anne Frank: The Whole Story.”
In “Learning to Drive,” his character teaches a woman, whose life is in chaos after she’s abandoned by her husband, how to drive in New York City.
Clarkson’s literary agent Wendy asks Kingsley’s Darwan, “Why do you teach driving?”
His response echoes the prejudices that many people who wear religious garments face: “For a better job I would have to take off my turban and shave off my beard, but this is how I know who I am.”
In another scene in the film, Darwan faces verbal abuse by a group of young men who call him “raghead” and Osama Bin Laden, confusing the Sikh for a Muslim.
Kingsley hopes the comedy-drama will be a teachable moment for moviegoers. He continues: “I feel whenever we’re given an opportunity to say, ‘Look at what people can do to each other and then look at what people can do for each other,’ as a story teller, just present it to you and say: ‘What do you think?’”
As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each other's company they find the...Read More