CHANDIGARH: Moral policing takes a high seat in Punjab. All set to constitute a ‘Sikh Censor Board’ to clear movies and books based on the Sikh religion, history and culture, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is taking steps to prevent controversies surrounding films and to ensure that Sikhs are projected in the right manner in films and books and in sync with Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ (code of conduct). The top Sikh body will now filter films, books and entertainment.
Movies have courted controversies and have had a brush with trouble in the past. Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardaar, Akshay Kumar’s Singh is Kinng, Jo Bole So Nihaal, Singh Saab The Great of Sunny Deol which was originally called Singh Sahib The Great, Kaum De Heere and Sadda Haq. Sikh bodies also objected to TV serial Gurbani Ishq Da Kalma. SGPC intervened and its name was changed to Bani Ishq Da Kalma.
SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar said, “The proposed board is aimed to ensure that the movies made in the future are in accordance with the Sikh ‘rehat maryada’. The agenda of setting up the censor board would come up in the executive committee meeting scheduled for December 17 at Fatehgarh Sahib. The board will have 11 members, including Sikh intellectuals, historians and experts from various fields, film experts and lawyers.”
Akal Takht Jathedar (High Priest) Gurbachan Singh said, “The SGPC was asked to constitute a censor board. Any movie or book related to Sikh history and culture has to be examined to avoid any controversies in the future.”
A few years ago there was a controversy on the publication of two books Gian Sarovar and Balu De Wal. North Zone Film and TV Association president J S Cheema said, “This step to constitute a Sikh censor board by SGPC amounts to moral policing. The SGPC should form a panel which can be on call to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the authorised body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Whenever there is a movie depicting Sikh culture or Sikhs, they (people in the panel) can give their views to the board and the experts there.’’
Cheema added, “After the release of the Punjabi film Chaar Sahibzade, there is a rush for making Punjabi animation movies. The producers or directors can go wrong. There is need to properly guide them on facts. We need somebody for this job but not exactly a censor board of SGPC.”
CBFC member Chander Mukhi questioned the legal sanctity behind the proposed censor board by SGPC. He said, “What legal status do they have? Under which law will they enact this board? CBFC is enacted by the Parliament. Any other organisation will come up tomorrow and try to set its own censor board. We have different panels to watch the movies before they are released. The members are different every time. Any objectionable part in the film is cut down.’’
Makkar admitted that the board would have no legal sanctity. “Filmmakers who don’t seek approval from the board would be responsible if there is any controversy. There have been instances in the past when films had to face strong protests,’’ he added.