The cast of Beeba Boys adds a lot of colour and collar to the image of Vancouver's gangland.

The cast of Beeba Boys adds a lot of colour and collar to the image of Vancouver's gangland.

Beeba Boys: The Indo-Canadian Scarface?

The province's anti-gang squad reviews the new film, which focuses on and dresses up Vancouver's criminal world.

The Indo-Canadian Scarface?

That’s what Sgt. Lindsey Houghton has heard Beeba Boys called, and it’s one of the reasons for B.C.’s anti-gang squad cautioning against the new film, which Houghton says glorifies Vancouver’s criminal past, present, and future.

“I did not like the film at all,” Houghton said, in an interview last week. “This movie not only glorifies and sensationalizes the gang life but, in the words of someone who I was just speaking with… it may set back the police’s and the communities’ efforts significantly in our work to educate people about the truth about gangs.

“I spoke with a few South Asian youth about a month ago,” said Houghton, media relations officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU).

“These kids said they couldn’t wait to see it because, ‘This was their Indo-Canadian Scarface.'”

Beeba Boys debuted at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and is showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival, currently underway. It was directed by Deepa Mehta, famous for her work with movies like Water and Midnight’s Children, and stars actor Randeep Hooda as a simultaneously “devoted family man” and “merciless gangster” striving for power and supremacy in B.C.’s biggest city.

Of course, movies about the mob, or gangs, or crime are plentiful – and popular.

We’ve seen them set in Boston, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Nevada, just for a few North American examples. While Vancouver’s finally getting its due as a setting, not just a location, Houghton says that hometown pride can’t comb over the film’s errors.

Related: ‘Anti-gang tactics working, Mountie tells conference‘ by Jeff Nagel, Surrey Leader (July 24, 2014)

“As someone who’s grown up and lived in B.C. almost my entire life, seeing Vancouver as Vancouver is a pretty cool thing,” he said. “When you eventually see the movie you’ll see that even the Vancouver Police Department is portrayed prominently as the Vancouver Police Department, which I think is obviously a fairly interesting thing, although I don’t think it’s done very well.

“I think what the filmmaker has tried to do is weave in stories and realities that have happened in the South Asian gang scene and landscape of the past 20 years.”

Houghton said there are obvious parallels between Beeba Boys and the Lower Mainland’s recent criminal history, and the film’s profile on TIFF’s website says as much, calling it “a kinetic drama loosely based on the career of notorious crime lord “Bindy” Singh Johal and the Punjabi gangs of second- and third-generation Indian immigrants operation on Canada’s West Coast in the 1990s.”

Houghton said he knows Beeba Boys is entertainment – that it’s not a documentary.

But still, as someone who’s been in the force for parts of 17 years, he’s aware and wary of the film’s impact.

“Whether or not it’s entertainment is besides the point,” he said. “(These kids) think Scarface is their hero flick… we have to combat that.

“We have to swim upstream against this pop culture.”

And while Beeba Boys is obviously based on real events and notorious characters, Houghton said the film fails to capture reality.

“The gang lifestyle is an unbelievably paranoid lifestyle,” he said. “These guys don’t walk around and drive around like they own the city. In their minds, they might think that’s the case. But they are always looking over their shoulder for the police, for their enemies… they don’t operate with complete impunity like it’s portrayed in this movie.”

Houghton also said the movie focuses solely on the “South Asian gang scene,” but Vancouver’s criminal world is much more diverse.

“The reality is, the gang landscape, especially in the Lower Mainland but in B.C., is that every ethnic group is represented. It’s not purely a South Asian gang scene, as is portrayed in the movie.

“From a policing perspective, very little of what happens in this movie is reality… Maybe reality wouldn’t sell.”

VIDEO: Beeba Boys Trailer – Toronto Festival 2015

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

Just Posted

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins for driver involved in car crash that killed retired Abbotsford police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

This vehicle is suspected of being involved in a suspicious incident on Friday (May 7) on Mouat Drive in Abbotsford.
Driver in Abbotsford tries to lure teen girl into his vehicle

Man tells 14-year-old that her mom sent him to pick her up

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

Michael Proud, a clinical nurse educator at Mission Memorial Hospital, standing outside the hospital. Patrick Penner photo.
Local nurses shine perspective on the last year through COVID-19

Stressors, challenges and successes on the pandemic’s front line

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies pretty on tourism

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read