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Akal Takht bans movie on Guru Nanak, plans a ‘Sikh censor board’

The producers have already refused to hold it back at this stage, citing a U-turn by the top Sikh bodies that had approved it and even appreciated it.

punjab Updated: Apr 10, 2018 09:44 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Nanak Shah Fakir,Akal Takht,SGPC

Two days after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) urged the Union and state governments to ban the movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, Sikh temporal seat Akal Takht on Monday announced a “ban” on its screening and appealed to the Sikh community to oppose it “in a peaceful manner” ahead of its re-release scheduled for April 13, Baisakhi.

Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh reacted a day after “parallel” jathedars, “appointed” at a radical groups’ Sarbat Khalsa (congregation) in 2015, also announced a “hukamnama” (edict) against the movie based on the life of the first Sikh master, Guru Nanak. The chief objection is that portrayal of the gurus or their family members in human form is a violation of Sikh tenets, though the movie claims to have only used graphic effects to outline Guru Nanak.

The producers have already refused to hold it back at this stage, citing a U-turn by the top Sikh bodies that had approved it and even appreciated it. After it was first released in April 2015, producer Harinder Singh Sikka had to withdraw it in some days, and the Punjab government too had suspended its release citing protests. The jathedar had given an appreciation letter to Sikka before that, on January 22, 2015. It read: “The film made by you on the life and teaching of Guru Nanak and Sikh religion titled ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ is praiseworthy. We congratulate you. This is fine example of promotion of Sikh faith.”

The Takht has now changed its stance as was done by the SGPC, which had issued clearance to the movie. After the initial ban in 2015, the SGPC under the headship of Avtar Singh Makkar later formed a sub-committee and, on its recommendation, the Sikh ‘mini-parliament’ gave approval a year later, on May 13, 2016, by issuing a letter signed by the then chief secretary, Harcharan Singh.

The jathedar on Monday, though, said, “Sri Akal Takht Sahib completely bans controversial movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ and this movie will not be allowed to be released at any cost. I appeal to all the followers of Guru Nanak in the world to oppose the movie in peaceful manner.” And added, “The SGPC has withdrawn all the letters issued to approve the movie and facilitate its promotion in its institutions. Besides it has also written to Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Information and Broadcast Minister and Punjab Chief Minister to seek ban on the movie.”

A ‘Sikh censor board’ planned

Next up, there is also a proposal to have a “Sikh censor board”. The SGPC during its recent budget session demanded representation on the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), or the censor board. Now the temporal seat has decided to form its own censor board. “This board will include representatives of the SGPC, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Sant Samaj, Sikh sects and other Sikh institutions, Sikh historians and intellectuals, religious personalities and filmmakers”, the jathedar said.

He added, “Permission of this board will be mandatory for the script for every filmmaker before making a film related to Sikh religion. On recommendation of this board, Sri Akal Takht Sahib will be giving final approval to any of such movie.”

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 19:28 IST