Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar has said it was not in his knowledge that the SGPC had given its approval to movie Nanak Shah Fakir during his tenure. Many Sikh bodies have been opposing the release of the first movie on the life of the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev.
SGPC, the apex religious body of Sikhs, gave approval to the movie on May 13, 2016, when Makkar was its president. The then SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh had signed the approval letter given to movie producer Harinder Sikka.
The letter was handed over to Sikka in the presence of the then SGPC secretary Daljit Singh Bedi, then SGPC executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta and Harcharan Singh himself. Harcharan Singh was considered close to Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal. He, however, resigned from the SGPC in July 2017, amid questions raised over his functioning by Damdami Taksal. The Indian Express spoke to Avtar Singh Makkar about the approval to movie.
SGPC have approval to the movie during your tenure. Now, many Sikh bodies are opposing the movie. How do you justify the approval?
I have no idea that the approval was granted during my tenure. I was under pressure to give the approval. Producer Sikka had approached me through various channels. I had agreed to watch the movie and went to Delhi to see it. But I could not watch it till the end because it had so many problems. I walked out. I had told him clearly that I did not like the movie and I could not approve it.
How is it possible that you were not aware about the approval?
I was not aware about it. If it was given, it must have been given by the then chief secretary Harcharan Singh. You will not find my signature anywhere on the approval.
But now the movie is going to be released?
I have read the statement of SGPC spokesperson. He has said that the producer has made the required changes in the movie. But I have not watched the movie after the changes. So I can’t say if the changes have been made or not.
How do you see the objection by some Sikh bodies over the role of Bebe Nanaki, sister of Guru Nanak Dev, played by an actress in the movie?
Bebe Nanaki has played a role in the history of Sikhism. You can use animation to show the history. But no human being can play her role. Not only of Bebe Nanaki, but also role of Guru Nanak’s mother Tripta Devi, his father Mehta Kalu.
Any suggestion to SGPC ?
SGPC has made a statement that changes have been made in the movie. But if role of the Bebe Nanaki has been played by an actress, it should not be released.