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‘No one above sentiments of sangat’ — why SGPC wants ban on Punjabi film depicting Sikh Guru’s sons

SGPC has argued that the film Dastaan-E-Sirhind violates strictures against Sikh Gurus or their families being depicted in any film or song, whether by actors or in animated form.

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Chandigarh: Harjinder Singh Dhami, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), has urged the Punjab government to ban the release of Punjabi film Dastaan-E-Sirhind. The film is a hybrid — cinematic and animated — depiction of the life of the four sahibzadas, or sons, of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last Sikh guru. 

Hardliner Sikh bodies have objected to the film on the grounds that neither Sikh Gurus nor their families may be depicted in any film or song, whether by actors or in animated form. The SGPC had passed a resolution in 2003 against actors playing such roles, which was later extended to animated depictions by a subcommittee in 2019.  

In a press statement issued Wednesday, the SGPC demanded a ban on Dastaan-E-Sirhind, objecting to the alleged personification of the sahibzadas in it. “Several organisations and the sangat (Sikh community) are expressing their protest to demand a ban on this film,” Dhami told reporters in Amritsar. “Nobody is above the sentiments of the sangat.”

Dhami also petitioned the Punjab government to take immediate action against the Navi Sidhu-directed film and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to reconsider its nod to it. The SGPC, he said, had not given a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the film. “Any decision regarding any film related to the history of the Sikhs is taken in the light of principles, Sikh maryada (code of conduct), and traditions,” he added. 

Last week, a delegation of the Sikh hardliner group Dal Khalsa had met Dhami to seek his intervention in the matter. Dal Khalsa spokesperson Paramjit Singh Mand had reportedly reminded the SGPC that, according to its own resolution 5566, dated 30 May 2003, “Guru Sahibs and respectable family personalities of Guru Sahibs and the characters of Panj Pyare Sahibs cannot be played by actors in films.”

ThePrint tried to contact director Navi Sidhu via calls but did not receive a response until the time of publication. This report will be updated when a response is received.

Also Read: Akali Dal fends off party rebel to keep grip over SGPC. What is the Sikh body & why it matters

Earlier bans, cuts

The Akal Takht — the highest temporal body of the Sikhs — banned the Punjabi film Nanak Shah Fakir on similar grounds in 2018.

In 2019, another film, Dastaan-E-Miri Piri, ran into trouble over the alleged portrayal of Sikh Gurus in it. A sub-committee of the SGPC eventually allowed its release on the condition that all references should be removed to a character personifying Guru Hargobind Singh, the sixth Guru.

This sub-committee had at the time recommended that a ban should apply not only on the depiction of Sikh Gurus and their family members by actors (which already existed since 2003), but also on animated films using computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Permission was also sought from the SGPC in 2014 by the makers of the animated Punjabi film Chaar Sahibzaade which, too, was based on the life of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh. While the SGPC allowed its release and the display and sale of related merchandise, the film’s screening was made tax-free by the then Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab.

Notably, the SGPC received criticism over its decision to acquire the rights to the film for Rs 4 crore. In 2016, the body allowed the film to be screened on government vans across Punjab as part of the then Akali Dal government’s publicity campaign.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Khalistan ideologue Amritpal’s onward march in Punjab, guns & all, aims to ‘spread Sikhism’


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