Beeba Boys Doesn’t Know What The Real World Of Indo-Canadian Gangs Looks Like

By Dr. Gira Bhatt

Beeba Boys have hit the big screens. The fictional account of the Indo-Canadian gang-involved young men of the Lower Mainland has added a buzz to the movie world.

The theme of the movie touches the sensitive core of the issue our suburbs are facing; the young men totting guns on our streets day and night, spraying bullets at the cars and the houses of the rival gang members with a total disregard for the innocent bystanders and neighbors. Over 49 gang-linked shootings have occurred since March of this year perpetuated by criminal gangs in the Lower Mainland

Who are these young and dangerous criminal gangsters wandering our streets?  What kind of lives do they live?

Beeba Boys claims to address these questions by weaving a story line supposedly drawn from some real events of Indo-Canadian young men involved in the dark world of gangs and violence. It is a movie however, not a documentary. Hence the movie makers have the creative license to veer off the reality path. Yet, the question inevitably arises as to how far and how often this movie has blurred and obliterated the reality of the criminal world of the Indo-Canadian gang active members.

For starters, the big issue pertains to the portrayal of the exclusively Indo-Canadian gang.  At the center is the life of the ultra stylish and ruthless Indo-Canadian gang leader. He rules supreme with his subordinate Indo-Canadian stooges and sidekicks doing his dirty jobs.  While there is no denial that some Indo-Canadian men are involved in criminal gang activities and gun violence, the reality is that most gangs in our city are not specific or exclusive to any ethnic group -except for some aboriginal gangs.   Instead, there are loosely formed levels and groups of illegal drugs importers & exporters, distributors, and street level dial-a-dopers who come from all communities.  Most of these do not have strict hierarchical organized structures.  It is simply a dog-eat-dog world. In fact the fluid boundaries and transient memberships render the use of the term “Gangs” problematic and also make it challenging for our police to track them.  The movie makers’ attempt to impose the US style gangster world on our Beeba Boys simply falls flat on the grounds of our reality.

The Beeba Boys likely contributes to the stereotype of the Indo-Canadian men being at the forefront of the criminal gang scenes in our city.  For a reality check, one may only need to take a quick look at our police data on gang related homicides.  Accordingly,  the vast majority, 46%  are the mainstream “white boys”, not the Beeba boys, whose rate is about 21%,  which is also the same rate as for the  Asian-Chinese.

So much for the reality of Indo-Canadian young men terrorizing our suburbs.

Another detour from the reality is the depiction of the super rich and luxurious lifestyle of the fashion conscious Beeba boys.  After all, the gang world is about money, lots of it, gained real quickly, and all in instant cash.  This is the biggest lure; the prospect of a glamorous life, the glitter of the girls in designer porn outfits, and the bottomless piles of cash. Renting a pent house, dressing in stylish outfits and shining jewelry, driving luxury cars purchased with cash, the gangsters arrive at the city nightclubs to party hard spilling cash, and carrying guns, of course.

The reality, however, is that the quickly gained money disappears just as quickly. Financial debts are at the core of any gang life whether these are incurred by the young entry-level foot soldiers delivering drugs through the dial-a-dope operations or the older members involved in the import, export and distribution of drugs and weapons.  One may only need to listen to the police who will tell the true stories of the debt-ridden life of gang members and how pathetic and rapid the downfall of the stylish gangsters can be.  Non-payment of rents and bills, as well as begging and stealing of money from friends, girl friends, and family becomes the norm in a gangster world.

Yet the stylish Beeba Boys never have to let go their designer clothes or luxury cars or their penthouse.

Another major diversion from the reality is the portrayal of the Beeba Boys enjoying almost total impunity from police encounters.  Except for an occasional advice from a concerned police officer and at the conclusion of the story,  the Beeba Boys seems to have a free run to wreck havoc in our city with their bullying and blatant defiance of the law. The truth is that the criminal gang members are under a constant watch by the police. This forces them to stay in the shadowy world while chipping away their freedom to roam fearlessly in public. All of these add to their paranoia and being on the edge all the time, which are fueled further by the rival gangs running after them as well.

The family ties are strong for the Indo Canadian community.  Adult married children living at home with their parents, where their own mother may still do their laundry ring true to reality. However, what is missing in the Beeba Boys is the hard reality of the family grief, the loss of family wealth to debt collectors, the constant threat of the inevitable jail time and most likely the tragic death of a precious adult son.  Instead we see the family life of the Beeba Boys moving along relatively smoothly with their “aunties” sitting happily in a spa sharing gossips and laughs.  One has to only attend any of the numerous anti-gang community forums in our city to hear the voices of the families torn apart by the criminal gangs and violent lifestyles that lured their loved ones away.

Beeba Boys, a 103-minute movie of a gangster drama tries to entertain but demands that we leave our reality lenses home.

Dr. Gira Bhatt teaches psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and has led the project Acting Together, an academic -community collaboration for prevention of youth violence and gang involvement.

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