Objecting to the human representation of Guru Nanak in the upcoming film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, Sikh radical organisation Dal Khalsa has warned its maker not to be “a Salman Rushdie”, who’s a controversial author accused of blasphemy.
On Tuesday, Kanwar Pal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, wrote a protest letter to film producer Harinder Singh Sikka that since the intent was to “challenge and subvert the fundamental belief system of Sikhs”, they wouldn’t allow the movie to be released.
The e-mail objects to the representation of Guru Nanak in any human form, whether through computer graphics or as blurred image.
The letter reads: “You are striking at the roots of our faith, which is intolerable.” “The Sikh tenets prohibit the human representation of Sikh Gurus and their immediate families categorically, unambiguously, and unmistakably.”
“What you are about to do with the release of the movie is nothing short of blasphemy,” it reads further, adding that it would encourage others to be pernicious and wayward. It warns Sikka that: “If you choose to be a Salman Rushdie and preach blasphemy from behind the veil of modernity, you are inviting trouble. We can’t allow you to stream-roll our beliefs in the name of the freedom of expression.”
When HT asked Sikka to react, he said he had reverted to Kanwar Pal Singh on telephone within 30 minutes of receiving the message.
“We had a long chat, and I felt that he appreciated where I came from. I was given to understand that the Dal Khalsa has been against many similar projects, including ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’, in the past, so its stand was consistent. Kanwar Pal Singh is quite reasonable in his query,” said the film producer.
Sikka clarified that he had shown the film to Sikh religious leaders at Darbar Sahib three months ago. “I have already made the changes they had pointed out. It is distressing to see Sikhs fighting Sikhs instead of the country’s enemies, for which Guru Gobind Singh Sahib had created the Khalsa. I have deepest regard for my community and would not like to hurt its sentiments; but I wonder why I am being singled out for such a noble and pious project, which is to spread the message of Guru Sahib,” the film-maker said.
“Not even a single Sikh among the many hundreds that watched the preview in Toronto, Los Angeles and France had even a single objection. On the contrary, everyone came out with teary eyes and deeper faith. Unlike ‘Chaar Sahibzaade’, which was made with a commercial intent, ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ is ‘nishkam seva’ (selfless service),” said Sikka, adding that he’d be more than happy to hand over all the proceeds to Darbar Sahib to serve the needy. The film is to be released on April 17.