Real Housewife married to Real Gangster

June 18th, 2012 mani

[Please note, this blog post is an opinion piece.]

It is no secret how popular ‘The Real Housewives of…’ shows are, come on, they keep people stupid while allowing you to live vicariously through their lives of dining out, shopping, and facial massages. My apparent discord for these types shows is well known and I really do not want to waste my time even blogging about it, but this you should know;

The Real Housewives of Vancouver premiered a couple of months ago to high ratings and praise, one of the ‘Housewives’, Reiko MacKenzie, [updated] was married to -former- gangster, Vinuse ‘Sun News’ Lal, currently known as Sun News MacKenzie, a day trader & venture capitalist. Really? Anyone buying that?

Mr. Lal, former friend/associate of the notorious Bindy Johal is living a life of riches and comforts, proclaiming that his fortune was made through hard work. While this bullshit might sound grand on mainstream media, we all know that it is garbage. Mr. Lal and [redacted] Ms. MacKenzie aka Reiko need to get their heads out of their asses and remember that their lives of grandeur were made on the spilled blood of the Metro Vancouver community.

Here is the Vancouver power couple as of 2012;

Reiko MacKenzie

Sun News MacKenzie

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PIFF, unprofessional & disrespectful.

May 21st, 2012 mani

Hello all,

My post today is unfortunately about a negative experience with a South Asian event than about a positive one. Experiences such as these have become all too typical.

I will refrain from painting the entire South Asian Community with a broad brush, as these things happen in all communities, it has just been unfortunate that I have had the same experience multiple times in the same community.

Early in April, I was contacted by, Sandy Grewal, executive team member and Director of Films & Programming of the Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF).

Ms. Grewal had heard about my latest feature, Footsteps Into Gangland, and was interested in screening it in Toronto. It is always exciting to be recruited by a film festival, after all, that is the way independent filmmakers get noticed. However, knowing the nature of my work, I advised Ms. Grewal that before any promises are made, it would be prudent of her to watch my film. Although she had heard good things about the film, I rather have a person watch the entire film and make a decision based on personal experience. My work has been deemed controversial and I do not want to have unexpected backlash from the festival from a rushed decision on Ms. Grewal’s part.

I provided PIFF with the preview link to Footsteps Into Gangland, also, I provided links to my other films as Ms. Grewal expressed interest. A week or so later, I was contacted by PIFF again. It seems my film was well received, furthermore, they wanted to showcase not only Footsteps Into Gangland, but A Warrior’s Religion (Short), and the Decrepit.

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Guest Speaker @ Kwantlen Polytechnic University, yet again

April 13th, 2012 mani

Dr. Summer Pervez continues to show her support and utilize my work for her classes. I was shown further honour and respect by being invited yet again to speak to one her classes at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University on April 11th, 2012.

The class was very engaged which lead to some strong discussion and dialogue. It is always encouraging and inspiring to me when my work is being utilized and is well received. Hopefully I can continue using film, poetry, and other modes of art to bring about positive change.

It has been a long journey since I decided to utilize film to bring awareness to socially conscious issues, I have been blessed with the respect I receive and I hope to continue educating students on issues such as gang activity.

Shout out to Summer once again for being such a great supporter.

Best regards,


(Screening of A Warrior’s Religion took place on April 4th)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Crime & Our Community

February 23rd, 2012 mani

MP Jasbir Sandhu, in partnership with the School of Criminology at SFU hosted a forum; Crime & Our Community on February 21st, 2012.

It is always an honour to be asked to speak to an audience as a guest speaker, or in this case, a panel member. This forum’s panel hosted very educated and experienced members of the community who have in-depth knowledge of criminology, awareness, prevention, intervention, enforcement, and the marijuana trade industry.

The other panel members were; Dr. Robert Gordon, Ruth Lee, Colleen Staresina, & Shayne Williams.  The forum was hosted by MP Jasbir Sandhu, moderated by Peter Leblanc (community and outreach assisatant to Jasbir Sandhu). MP Jinny Sims was also present as a guest panelist.

There was much dialogue which was followed up with great questions from the audience.

I would like to note that Maple Batalia’s mother and father were present showing support for change in our community. Their strength and courage is inspiring. I wish the Batalia family further strength. Justice for your daughter will be found.

The forum’s dialogue and Q&A was recorded, please feel free to listen below.

Shout out to Jasbir Sandhu and his office for organizing such an important event, SFU for hosting, and Peter Leblanc for tracking me down and asking me to be a panelist.

Crime & Our Community – February 21st, 2012

Crime & Our Community - February 21st, 2012

Further links;

As always, thank you for helping make a positive change,



December 12th, 2011 mani

Hello all,

It was a long road, but the film is finally available on DVD!

Thanks to everyone who helped throughout the production process.

Major thanks goes out to Sandi Nijjar, my manager for the last 4 years, and Robin Mahal, my assistant director who took on duties outside her scope of practice much too often.

Here is some teaser artwork for the DVD release;




Guest Speaker @ Kwantlen Polytechnic University

December 3rd, 2011 mani

Professor Dr. Summer Pervez, a long time supporter of mine, has been utilizing my films as a means to educate students on South Asian Canadian Literature.  Dr. Pervez’s teaching style marks a change from traditional teaching practices; with a gift to keep students engaged, Dr. Pervez exposes students to a world of independent films and literature, very different from the usual over-utilization of main stream books and films.

On December 1st, I was invited to do a Q&A as well as talk about my personal experiences that lead me into filmmaking. It was a great experience at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

I thank the students for their props and support and wish them the best in making a positive difference in this world.

Shout out to Summer for the ongoing support!

Thanks everyone,


(Screening of A Warrior’s Religion took place on November 22nd/24th & screening of Footsteps Into Gangland took place on December 6th)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Bal Buttar, finally dead

November 13th, 2011 mani

Bal Buttar - RCMP Files
Bal Buttar in 2001.
Photograph: RCMP Files

It took awhile, more than 10 years in a long-term care facility, after being blinded and paralyzed during an attempt on his life in 2001, but he got what he deserved, that is for sure.

Most people don’t know that not only was Bal Buttar a central character in my film, but that he considered me a friend and confidant.  Kim Bolan does not shy away from telling the world what Bal ‘confided’ in her, but the truth is, he was using her for the attention that he long craved.  To be honest, I don’t think she ever realized it.  Once I got a hold of Bal, he tried to use me too.  He thought that my film was going to be about him, and solely him.  His thirst of attention was based out of insecurities that are central underlying traits in most gangsters and gangster ‘wannabes’.  He often talked about how him being in my film would help sell copies of his book (that I ghost-wrote notes for as he dictated for obvious reasons), and that after the film and book release, he would be welcomed as a motivational speaker at schools.  He would talk about how people would learn from his mistakes, yet he continued to make his own.  I experienced his temper many times, calling me names, insulting me, and so on.  I witnessed his anger towards others when he could not control situations, racial and sexual remarks were often thrown at staff that worked in the care facility.  His insecurities skewed his perception of reality, often remarking how ‘bitches’ would still want to fuck him, even in his current state, and that he could have any girl just based on his history.

Poor Bal never fully grasped that he was the butt of all jokes about what it is to be a typical gangster.  That his image was portrayed as one of a failure and that his life was nothing but a tragedy.  He circumscribed sadness.

The things he confided in me were not of his crimes only, every officer and reporter already knew of his ‘secrets’, but it was his personal life, that no one really knew.  His longing to pursue arts as a child, only to have his father disrespect and humiliate him at the mere notion.  Or how after everything went awry, he still held hope that his estranged son would one day visit him and call him dad.  It were these things that brought me close to Bal.  It were these things that made me an important person in his life.  I will not deny, that I felt sad for him.

I never went into a visit with him wanting to know his ‘criminal life’, but every day asked of him about ‘him’.  The person.  Don’t get me wrong, a person so distanced from any emotion that involves trust was not the quickest of people to warm up to a complete stranger.  I spent 4-6 hours with Bal for months.  Talking to him about ‘him’, about his feelings, his memories, and everything in between.  Within a few weeks, the situation had become normal, we were both comfortable with one another.  The nursing staff often saw me doing his meal feeds, or grabbing him a drink of water or an extra blanket.  We traded jokes, listened to/watched t.v., he even gave me advice on problems I was having with my fiance (ex-fiance now) at the time.

People were worried about me.  Saying I was putting myself in danger by getting involved with him.  Bal still had many enemies, as he did encompass some secrets that they did not want the world to hear.  But it was all worth it for the footage I got of him, in his rawest essence, in his most vulnerable state.

Bal’s scenes in my film were some of the most moving and most disturbing.  Some of what he said was so prolific and poetic, yet, some of what he said was just plainly arrogant, stupid, and ignorant.

But that was Bal, a very complex person, with a multitude of insecurities and problems.  Bal hurt a lot of people, some of whom were just gangsters and perhaps deserved the fate, but some were just innocent people that got hurt via his rampage through his life.

I believe in karma, and karma will ultimately come to a balance.  For a long time it swayed, but just recently, it has tipped closer to being level, than when Bal was alive.

Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun
A typical image of Bal Buttar for the rest of his life.
Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun

referring article/link.


November 4th, 2011 mani

Vancouver Island University

One of my favourite things to do is reach out and awareness work for the youth.  My film career has blessed me with many opportunities to come out to events and help educate youth and the public about gangsterism, women’s rights, and other socially conscious issues.

A Warrior’s Religion provided me with such opportunities, and to my surprise, now this film, is doing the same.

Professor Jay Ruzesky reached out to me after using A Warrior’s Religion in his class.  He was hoping I could come down and do a Q&A for the class, which I jumped at the chance to do.  After going back for a couple of weeks, we decided this would be a good opportunity to showcase FIG.

FIG, still going through the film festival circuit had not been actively circulated for further theatrical and educational screenings, these students essentially got a ‘sneak peak’!

It was a great event, a very engaged crowd, and an awesome day all around.  I had missed the island, as it will always will feel like home for me.

The new VIU LEED Cowichan Campus was absolutely stunning!  Environmentally & aesthetically beautiful!

Shout out to Professor Jay Ruzesky for the awesome experience.  It was my sincere pleasure to work with VIU once again.

Thank you to the awesome questions, comments, and feedback from the students/public in attendance.

Thank you Vancouver Island University!

Looking forward to more opportunities to give back to the youth.



post copied from; 

R.I.P. Maple Batalia

October 20th, 2011 mani

…the younger sister of a supporter and friend of mine was shot and killed in the parkade of SFU Surrey.  Maple was leaving school after a long night of studying…

Emergency crews try to revive Maple Batalia at a parking garage at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus early Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.

An aspiring model & actress, a driven youth, a beautiful person, and a girl who left us much to early, was lost.

I always knew that this issue would start getting closer and closer to home for me, I think this event is what is ‘breaking the camel’s back’.

Though I never had the chance to meet Maple personally, I knew her older sister, Rose.

Rose has been one of my first supporters and has never stopped supporting me and my work.  Maple, Rose, and the entire Batalia family deserved better.

We cannot live in a society where people with no connection to any gangs or criminal activity are shot and killed in cold blood.  This is ridiculous people…my heart breaks with every fucking blog post I write…when will people stand up?  When will you stand up and help make a positive difference?  Just fucking stand…


I think everyone was already aware of this, it looks like the ex-boyfriend, Gurjinder ‘Gary’ Dhaliwal, is the main suspect…

Gurjinder 'Gary' Dhaliwal, the ex-boyfriend of murder victim Maple Batalia, has been charged in an assault against two people. Oct. 3, 2011. (CTV)

If he thinks he can commit such a heinous crime and not be known to the public, then he is sadly mistaken, everyone should be aware of a murderer’s face;


A candlelight vigil was held for Maple on September 30th, 2011;

Candlelight vigil in Maple Batalia's memory–candlelight-vigil-held-for-maple-batalia

R.I.P. Maple Batalia

Further links to this story;

News Videos;


Recognizing Anti-Gang Artwork

September 14th, 2011 mani

My name is Junichi Swope. I'm 16 years old, in grade 11, and go to Dr. Charles Best Secondary. The recent increase in gang violence in the tri-cities inspired this poster. My poster is a warning to people who are thinking about joining a gang. I want to leave the poster up to peoples' imagination, whether they want to identify with being the person pulling the trigger, or the person about to get killed. Neither scenario is ideal, and very well could happen if one joins a gang.

I am one and half years late with this post, I apologize, thank you to Robin Mahal for reminding me of it.

In spring of 2010, The Vancouver Sun ran a contest asking students across BC to submit their anti-gang posters.  The amount of students who took part in the contest was amazing.

Thank you to The Vancouver Sun for initiating this and a very special thank you to all the students who used their art to bring awareness to this socially conscious issue.

More initiatives like this need to be put in place, art has an uncanny power to make a positive difference, we do not need to realize this fact, we just need to remember that it was always true. 

The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival New Asia Festival Sikh International Festival Spinning Wheel Festival