Despite SC clearance, Nanak Shah Fakir producer not to release film in Punjab

The film producer’s decision to not release the film in view of the “sensitivity of the issue and the public sentiment involved” came as a big relief for the state authorities.

punjab Updated: Apr 11, 2018 09:27 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Nanak Shah fakir,SGPC,Censor Board
Members of Sikh community hold placards during a protest against the screening of the film 'Nanak Shah Faqir' in Amritsar on April 7.(AFP)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for the release of the controversial film, Nanak Shah Fakir, on April 13 and criticised the apex religious body of the Sikhs, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for imposing restrictions on the film.

The film’s producer Harinder Singh Sikka, however, has decided not to release the film in Punjab where it faced the wrath of the Sikh community.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, said, “Once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) grants permission to a film, no one has the right to stop its public screening.”

The top court also ordered the state governments to ensure peaceful release and screening of the film. The petition in the apex court was filed by the film’s producer, who claimed that the SGPC had banned the release of the film, based on the life and teachings of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, even after the CBFC cleared it on March 28.

Commenting on the rising tendency of some associations to block the release of films, the court said, “If such activities are encouraged, the same has the potential to bring in anarchy and cripple the right of freedom of speech and expression. In any case, such bodies, groups or individuals cannot assume the position as if they are the authorities to grant certificate or unless they feel that the movie is to be released, it should not see the light of the day.”

Talking to HT, Sikka said: “I am not going to release the film in Punjab. This movie has not been made for profit, but to propagate the teachings of Guru Nanak. If there is dissatisfaction and outrage over the film, what is the point of releasing it in the state” .

Sikka said he had got the approval of Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and SGPC at every stage before releasing the film. “I made costly changes in accordance with the objections raised by a sub-committee constituted by the SGPC. Only then the movie was cleared,” he said.

The film producer’s decision to not release the film in view of the “sensitivity of the issue and the public sentiment involved” came as a big relief for the state authorities. The government was under pressure after several Sikh organisations openly declared that they would not let the movie be released in Punjab.

Earlier, CM Capt Amarinder Singh, whose government first toyed with the idea of banning it, said that any decision to ban the movie had become unnecessary in view of the filmmaker’s decision against releasing it in the state.

The CM said his state government would review the situation and take all possible steps, as and when deemed necessary, to ensure that there was no disruption of law and order. “Any attempt to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the state will be dealt with an iron hand,” he said.

First Published: Apr 11, 2018 09:22 IST