'BMWs & Dub Music: The Undiscovered Punjabi Community Of London

'BMWs & Dub Music: The Undiscovered Punjabi Community Of London

The Sikh community stands to be perhaps one of the most impactful parts of India’s diverse potpourri. However, what if we told you there exists a little Punjab on western shores as well.

Let us introduce you to the tight-knit community of Southall, a dominant Asian neighbourhood located in Britain. Recognized as one of the largest Punjabi communities outside of India, the community finds itself to be the main ethnic sub-group followed by Hindus and Muslims, originating from India, Pakistan, and a few from Bangladesh and East Africa.

After the 1947 partition maneuvered by the British in India, Sikhs were the majority community that chose to immigrate among others. It was the Sikhs who came in large numbers and gave southall its identity.

Punjabi community of Southall

Every culture boasts of a unique subculture and for the Sikhs of Southall, technology holds soul and character. Providing an intimate perspective on Southall’s car collectors is Zimmers of Southhall a short documentary celebrating the classic BMW car scene within West London’s Punjabi community. Inspired by a mutual love of classic BMWs and dub music, the Zimmers of Southall documentary explores London’s multiculturalism through its car collectors.

Zimmers is directed by community photographer Hark1karan and produced by Alex Donaldson of Alleycat Films. It provides an intimate snapshot of Southall’s proud Punjabi community via the lens of its car collectors, tapping into a rich local history of migration, intergenerational identity, and British music culture.

Shot entirely on VHS video, the documentary has a distinctly ‘90s feel’ that perfectly captures the frantic work and play dynamics that reside within the car enthusiasts of the community.

“We wanted to show what normal lads, especially Asian lads, get up to; to take away from certain stereotypes and give nuance to their lives. They’re skilled, they have a passion, and the car is a safe space for them to express themselves, along with the music.”  

— Hark1karan, Director

Watch the documentary here.

If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: