A TOP Sikh body welcomed on Thursday (April 23) the pulling of a controversial biopic of their religion’s founder from cinemas worldwide, following protests against the movie that critics deemed blasphemous.
The producer of Nanak Shah Fakir, a film on the life and teachings of Sikh founder Guru Nanak, this week cancelled screenings of the film which had been released in Britain and elsewhere.
Filmmaker Harinder Singh Sikka said offending sections of the movie would be cut so that it could be rereleased at a later date.
“As per the directions of holy Akal Takht (the highest temporal seat of Sikhs), I have decided to withdraw the movie Nanak Shah Fakir from all the theatres worldwide forthwith,” Sikka said in a statement.
The film was criticised for depicting the 15th century religious leader in human form, which is against the tenants of Sikhism.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which manages Sikh temples across India, including its holiest shrine the Golden Temple, welcomed the move, adding that it would review the new version before release.
“We are satisfied with the decision to withdraw the film from cinemas,” committee president Jathedar Avtar Singh Makkar said by telephone.
“Our committee will review the film after the producer deletes the portions which are against our religious beliefs and (if) they find no objectionable content, we will allow it to be screened again,” he added.
The film was banned in Punjab, India, ahead of its release on April 17 after Sikh groups warned of violent protests outside cinemas.
At least one theatre in Britain, where the film was released two days later, was targeted by Sikh protesters who demanded screenings be cancelled.
Hardline group Dal Khalsa, which seeks an independent state for Sikhs, warned that it would oppose any re-release, saying the film should never have been made.
“If he deletes scenes showing the Sikhism founder and his family, nothing will be left of the movie,” spokesman Kanwarpal Singh said. “He should not have made the film at all and there is no question of rereleasing it.”
Showing or depicting the gurus of Sikhism has sparked violence in the past in India by followers.
In 2007, a controversial sect leader in northern India was accused of wearing an outfit resembling the 10th guru of Sikhism, leading to death threats and a minor bomb blast directed at his entourage.