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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Row over Nanak Shah Fakir: Have become a soft target, says producer Harinder Sikka

Harinder Sikka was excommunicated from the Sikh community Thursday for not abiding with Akal Takht directives saying not to release the movie Nanak Shah Fakir.

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR | Amristar | Updated: April 13, 2018 10:23:08 am
nanak shah fakir movie, punjab, Akal Takht Jathedar, sikh jathedar protest, harinder sikka producer, punjabi film industry, indian express Students stage protest against movie Nanak Shah Fakir in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh/File)

Harinder Sikka was excommunicated from the Sikh community Thursday for not abiding with Akal Takht directives saying not to release the movie Nanak Shah Fakir. He spoke to The Indian Express soon after the excommunication was announced.

What is your view on the Akal Takht’s decision to excommunicate you from the Sikh community ?

I do not want to say anything. Except that I am dedicated to the Akal Takht and bow in front of Akal Takht.

You say you are dedicated to Akal Takht. Are you going to stop the release of the film?

That (stopping the film’s release) is not in my hands. I have sold the rights to distribute the movie to Viacom (company). Now, only they can take a decision on this.

After giving you approval, now the SGPC has made a U-turn on its 2003 regulation that clearly says gurus and their kin cannot be depicted as characters on screen. Did they discuss this resolution with you while giving approval in 2016?

I have been in frequent touch with the SGPC and Akal Takht. I was granted permission by Akal Takht in 2015. An SGPC sub-committee asked me to make some corrections in the movie in 2016. I made those corrections and brought a CD to the SGPC office in Amritsar. All sub-committee members watched the movie on a projector inside the room of the then SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh. All members’ individually signed to give me approval to release the movie. I was not told about any resolution. Otherwise, it was not a big thing to make some more amendments to the film. I could have made the character of Bebe Nanaki into animation form… or any other character they would had demanded. It was not a big issue at all. But I was not informed about any such resolution. Even Harcharan Singh recently gave a statement that he was also not aware of any such resolution. No subcommittee member brought this resolution up while approving the movie. I again went to the SGPC last month. They issued two letters in support of the movie. Then they issued a press note suggesting people to first watch movie before forming opinions. I have become a soft target.

Will you again reach out to the Akal Takht to explain that you had taken all the permissions?

I have already explained all these things to the Akal Takht.

Apart from technical objections and SGPC resolution, which have been made ground to take U turn from your movie, there is another argument saying that there should be no movies made on Sikh gurus. These movies are not solving any purpose except creating controversy.

You should ask any 10 years old Sikh child about any ten questions on basic of Sikhism. That child would not be able to answer your questions. How will you propagate message of Sikhism? There is need to tell the stories to world.

Trailers of movie has also raised some questions. Some people have been questioning on content of movie like the symbols wear by Nanak’s family characters and especially an astrologer predicting Nanak’s birth.

Guru Nanak Dev had born in a Hindu family. I had to show that part. Family used to wear Jenu (The holy thread wear by upper caste hindu families). So it is obvious that the attire of his family members will be of that era. About character of the pandit (astrologer) named Hardial shown in movie, he is part of the history. That character of Pandit Hardial is mentioned in the historical writings. You cannot compare this era pandits with pandits of Guru Nanak era. Then Pandits used to know many things and they used to speak truth. It is your interpretation when you say pandit Hardial knew about birth of Guru Nanak. So hundred of people will have two hundred interpretations.

You know about your experience with sgpc while attempting to clear this movie. Do you still believe, for the sake of idea of Freedom of Speech and with censor board already in place in country, anybody should approach SGPC to clear the movie. Why one should take permission from SGPC?

Despite what happened with me, I still believe anybody making movie on Sikhism should go to SGPC and Akal Takht to clear the movie. But at the same time, SGPC should be reasonable. There should be proper procedure to follow.

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