The debut movie of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — ‘MSG: The Messenger of God’ — would not come out on its scheduled release date of Friday, January 16, even though there were TV reports and claims by the dera that it had been cleared by the certification authorities.
“The film has got the nod, but we will not like to release it at such short notice. That will take at least another week,” said dera spokesman Aditya Insan. The movie, said to be against the drug menace and other social ills, was with the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) upon referral by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). There was no official word with HT on the claimed FCAT clearance. Shravan Kumar, CBFC chief executive officer, went incommunicado after initially saying he was not sure how long the tribunal would take.
Besides the CBFC’s objections to the dera head’s alleged portrayal of himself as god, there are law and order concerns too as the Akal Takht, Sikhism’s highest temporal body, is among organisations that have sought a ban on the movie. Even the Union home ministry was reported to have called for caution in a communication to the Union ministry of information and broadcasting. The dera had openly supported Centre’s ruling party and eventual winner BJP in the recent Haryana assembly polls.
The FCAT’s reported nod came even as sources familiar with the procedures said earlier that the tribunal decision wasn’t likely soon. “It is a quasi-judicial process that takes at least two weeks,” a former secretary of the tribunal had said. The movie has been with the FCAT for less than a week.
The dera head had blamed the “drug mafia” for stalling the release.
Taking no chances, flag marches were held by police and paramilitary forces in Bathinda and other areas on Thursday as the dera head has been a contentious figure among radical Sikhs over his manner of propagation, as manifested in clashes over the years and in recent violence over the movie. The dera has a significant following in this region on the border of Punjab with his headquarters state of Haryana.
Trending on Twitter
Even though it remained stuck with censor authorities, ‘MSG’ was among the most popular talking points or ‘trends’ on social networking site Twitter over the past three days, with ‘#isupportMSG’ seeing thousands of tweets. It was the top trend for hours on Thursday too. The movie trailer is already a hit on YouTube, as a subject of both support and satire.