In 1965, Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy received a letter from the Films of India, a Los Angeles- based organization that used to screen Indian movies. Ram Bagai, then president of Films of India expressed support towards the U.S rights movement.
He offered to donate all the proceedings from the New York premiere of the movie ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization King and Abernathy headed.
Here is what Bagai wrote in the letter:
“With great respect — and deep admiration, we watch your concerted effort for the dignity of the Negro in the United States. We want you to know that your dream is our dream — that your prayer is our prayer.”
‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ starred V. Shantaram and Sandhya Shantaram. It was based on the experiment that took place in 1940’s. The experiment aimed to rehabilitate convicts through love and non-violence. The incredibly beautiful song ‘Ae maalik tere bande hum’ is from this movie.
Bagai clearly saw a link between civil rights for African Americans and civil rights for South Asian Americans.
“Because of my sympathy with you and your movement, and having been a former friend and follower of Mahatma Gandhi, my purpose in writing is to offer your organization the entire proceeds of the New York opening (premiere) of this film.”
Whether this offer was materialized or not, is not documented. Martin Luther King was an admirer of Gandhiji’s strategy of nonviolence.