‘Zero’ to DeepVeerKiShaadi, Rising Sikh Protests Against Bollywood

A few groups amongst the Sikh community in India seem to have a bone to pick with Bollywood. In 2018 itself, three big films have earned the wrath of Sikh representatives over their title or their scenes. Here’s a list of the instances when some Sikh groups threatened to protest against the depiction of the community in films or when certain B-Town celebrity behaviour was seen as a breach of decorum.

1. Protest Against Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone

Sunny Leone launches the web series Karenjit Kaur based on her life.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) objected to the use of "Kaur" in the title of the aforesaid Zee5 web series based on the life on the Bollywood actor and former adult film star - Sunny Leone. The show's title is a reference to her birth name, Karenjit Kaur Vohra. Diljit Singh Bedi, SGPC's additional secretary and spokesperson, reportedly said that the usage would hurt Sikh sentiments as Sunny did not follow the teachings of the Sikh gurus. Indian politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal party and general secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) wrote to Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group, asking for a change in the title and threatened to take a stern stand against the team, to which Chandra had a factual and fitting reply.

Many other communities similarly reacted with protest warnings outside their offices.

2. Protest Against Manmarziyaan

Abhishek Bachchan plays Robbie in Manmarziyaan.

A scene in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan had reportedly left some members of the Sikh community disgruntled. A Sikh organisation filed a petition against the film in the Jammu wing of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on 18 September, pushing the director to issue a clarification.

A scene in the film shows Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) removing his turban before going away from his house for a smoke. Since Sikhism prohibits smoking or the use of tobacco, the scene caused a controversy and was deleted from the film’s screenings in Punjab.

Producer Aanand L Rai then took responsibility for ordering voluntary cuts to the film, despite CBFC clearance. In a statement to Mumbai Mirror, Aanand said, “The decision of deleting the scenes was taken by Colour Yellow Productions. I thought if they are hurting someone’s sentiments, I might as well take them out as that’s not what my film is about.”

The Sikh Sangat of Ambala had also gathered in a meeting at Gurdwara Manji Sahib in Ambala to stand against the screening of the film. They demanded the registration of an FIR against the actor Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and the writer, director and the producer of the film. the Sikhs under the leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee also registered a complaint against the film to the city magistrate.

3. Protest Against Zero

Shah Rukh Khan in the controversial poster of Zero.

The trailer of Zero sees Shah Rukh wearing the ‘Gatra Kirpaan’ (Article of Sikh Faith) a dagger extremely sacred to the Sikhs. This offended members of the Sikh Sangat who complained to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC). As per the Sikh Rehat Maryada (code of conduct and conventions for Sikhism, approved by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) only Amritdhari Sikh individuals can wear the Kirpaan.

“I have received a number of complaints from the Sikh Sangat for hurting the sentiments of the Sikhs by movie Zero directed by Aanand L Rai. In the film, Shah Rukh Khan has been shown wearing “Gatra Kirpaan” (Article of Sikh Faith) and their movie promo has created outrage among Sikh community worldwide,” said Manjinder Singh Sirsa, General secretary, DSGMC.

He filed a complaint against Shah Rukh Khan and Aanand L Rai in a Delhi police station for the same, demanding that the particular scene and poster be withdrawn.

According to an ANI report, a petition has been filed in Bombay High Court by Amritpal Singh Khalsa seeking removal of scenes of Shah Rukh Khan displaying a 'Kirpan'. According to the petition, 'display of the Kirpan in such a way is blasphemous and the scene should be removed immediately from the film.

Sirsa responded to the makers saying that Aanand L Rai and Shah Rukh would have to issue a public statement on the matter and clarify their stand.

4. Protest Against Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone’s Anant Karaj Ceremony In Italy

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone at their wedding. 

An Italian Sikh organisation has alleged that the Anand Karaj ceremony that took place on 15 November, violated the Sikh code of conduct. According to Sukhdev Singh Kang, Indian Sikh Community Italy president, the Akal Takht ‘hukumnama’ sternly prohibits taking Guru Granth Sahib to a place other than a gurdwara.

The celeb wedding took place at Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como in Italy.

According to The Tribune, Kang also said that he would be writing to Akal Takht Jathedar for necessary action. Akal Takht acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has said that the matter would be taken up with the five high priests once a complaint is received.

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