SGPC summons ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ producer; he says can’t come, ‘too late to stop release now’

The row is escalating even as the SGPC had first approved the movie and then backtracked after some organisations raise objections.
Hindustan Times, Amritsar | By Surjit Singh
UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:54 PM IST

The row over the movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, scheduled for an April 13 release, continues as a new sub-committee constituted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to review it over objections to depiction of the first Sikh guru has asked the producer, Harinder Sikka, to appear before it in its meeting set for Saturday. But Sikka told HT that he will not be able to attend, and added that he now would not be able to hold back the release.

The row is escalating even as the SGPC had first approved the movie and then backtracked after some organisations raise objections. Sikhism prohibits bodily depiction of the gurus, though the movie’s makers have underlined that the figure shown in the movie — as evident in the trailer — has not been given a human form beyond an outline created using special effects.

The eight-member committee constituted on Friday will conduct a meeting at the SGPC headquarters, Teja Singh Samundri Hall. SGPC assistant secretary Simarjit Singh, who has been appointed coordinator of the committee, said a letter has been sent to the producer for the meeting, asking him to appear over “objections raised by the sangat (community)”.

When contacted, Sikka said he has received the letter but the panel has not told him what the agenda is. He said he will not be able to attend the meeting as he is travelling for the promotion of the movie.

Even as SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal on Friday asked the producer not to release the movie till the sub-committee took a call, Sikka argued that he is “helpless” at this stage as the decision is no longer his alone.

On the backtracking by the SGPC, he termed it unfair, and said, “The SGPC’s move to withdraw the clearance will hit its own credibility. In future, nobody will trust it. Is it fair that you withdraw clearance long after first according it? Do you know how much loss a person has to bear? I can tolerate the loss as I have made this film under the mission to propagate teachings of Sikhism. But what will happen to those who are associated with this film for business? I am not alone in deciding whether or not to release the movie.”

He added, “I will try to convince the SGPC by making them aware of all these aspects.”

The SGPC had constituted two committees earlier and then the latest one after sections of Sikh circles raised objections over clearance granted in 2016. Some organisations, primarily the hardliners, objected after letters issued by SGPC authorities to gurdwara managers and educational institutes to facilitate the film’s promotion and screen it on their campuses went viral on social media.

Initially, the SGPC defended itself by citing a go-ahead given by its sub-committee on March 28. It took a U-turn the next day.

Meanwhile, claiming that the movie will hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann on Friday demanded a ban on it. “We will not allow the screening of the movie” he said, speaking in Muktsar.

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