Upcoming Hindi film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ has run into trouble over the reportedly animated depiction of Guru Nanak, even as the movie’s producer, Harinder Singh Sikka, has denied violating Sikh tenets while using computer graphics for the purpose.
Sikh radical group Dal Khalsa has objected to the Guru’s portrayal, while Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Avtar Singh Makkar claims that no permission was sought by the film-maker before going ahead with the project. The movie is scheduled for release on April 17.
“All movies on Sikh history need prior clearance from the SGPC,” Makkar said, adding that “Sikka has not even shown us the trailer.”
Talking to HT, Sikka said, “The Guru has been shown with the help of graphics, not in any human form. I had screened the movie at the Cannes Film Festival in May last year and at the Sikh Lens arts and film festival (California) in November. Thousands of Sikhs and others appreciated it and said it would help spread Guru Nanak’s teachings. They also lauded Bhai Nirmal Singh (Hazoori raagi), who has recited the Guru’s ‘bani’.”
He further said: “Guru Nanak is a universal preacher whose teachings are also being followed by non-Sikhs worldwide. He is not merely the Guru of any Sikh radical group.”
Sikka wondered why no such objection was raised when an animation film released last year showed images of Guru Gobind Singh. He blamed another film-maker for triggering the controversy so as to undermine ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’.
Sikka said he was not worried about radical groups’ call for a ban on the film, adding that it was not a commercial venture for him despite being a big-budget film (Rs 35 crore).
Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh is planning to write to the film-maker to either remove the scenes in which the Guru is portrayed or withdraw the movie as it is “against Sikh principles”.
“In Sikhism, Gurus cannot by depicted in any (animated) form. I have seen the teaser. Even if the face is blurred, there is a clear animated portrayal. The film-maker is misleading people by saying that he has taken permission from Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh. The latter has not given the go-ahead.”
When contacted, the jathedar said he was only informed about the film in January this year by Sikka. In the reply to his email, the jathedar appreciated the project as it’s based on the life of Guru Nanak. He also gave his blessings to Sikka as he felt that cinema was a powerful medium for propagating the Guru’s teachings.
“I did appreciate his efforts, but that does not mean that I gave him the nod for the film. I was told that there was no portrayal of the Guru in the film. Before releasing the teaser, Sikka did not shown it to us,” Giani Gurbachan Singh added.
What Sikh radical groups say: Dal Khalsa and other bodies claim that Guru Nanak has been depicted in an ‘animated’ form
What film-maker says: According to Harinder Singh Sikka, computer graphics have been used for the purpose, but no Sikh principles have been flouted; blames another film-maker for kicking up a row