Monday 24 August 2009

Turban image in Bollywood film upsets Sikh people


Turban image in Bollywood film upsets Sikh peopleJagmohan Singh

Bollywood has done it again. As if the films in the genre of Jo Bole So Nihal (which despite the protests of the Sikh community, continues to be shown on the small screen on different channels) were not enough, films like Love Aaj Kal, Raja Hindustani, Mohabattein, Badal, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and others continue to take Sikhs non-seriously. Sikh anger is growing, but neither Bollywood producers and directors nor the Central Board of Film Certification has taken this with the seriousness it deserves.
The writer of open letters makes a fervent appeal to the leading film production company of Bollywood –Yashraj Films and the Censor Board to take immediate action in consultation with Sikh bodies.
Copies of this letter have been sent to Yashraj Films by email at helpdesk@yashrajfilms.com and to Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at jsp.inb@sb.nic.in. As the Central Board of Film Certification of India website is not working, a copy of the letter has been sent by mail. Readers are encouraged to write similar letters at both the addresses to ensure corrective action.

The DirectorsYashraj Films Private Limited5, Shah Industrial Estate Veera Desai RoadAndheri (West), Mumbai 400 053
Gentlemen:
Greetings in the Name of God, the light of every soul.
As if male actors were not enough to mock at the Sikhs, you now have a female actor to tar the Sikh image. Scenes and sequences from your latest movie seem to suggest that you are doing with a vengeance. I have browsed through whatever is available online on the internet and on television regarding your forthcoming movie -Dil Bole Hadippa and I have to say that the use of imagery and icons has been done cursorily and derogatorily. It is highly offensive to the devout for those who hold the religious way of life and tradition as a higher ideal.
Bollywood has been using names of God and script about God in a rather agnostic or atheistic manner and all this has been only “tolerable” not “acceptable and tolerable”. For Bollywood, with respect to Sikhs, freedom of expression has been license to poke fun at their attire, their intellect, their language and their community consciousness.
I have a hunch that there may be many more scenes in the whole movie which may raise our hackles and annoy us, but from what I have seen so far, I take strong objection to the following:
1. The use of the Sikh small turban –Keski as a dot on top of the alphabet i of Hadippa, both in the posters as well as the promo is simply shocking. The manner in which instead of the dot, the Keski –the small turban comes and rests on the alphabet I in an animated manner is disgusting. Do the producer and the director and all those involved with the movie remember the dot busters of USA of the late eighties and earlier nineties? Has Yashraj films and the promotional companies taken into account the impact of such imagery? If not, how does it propose to address this prior to the release of the movie? Is it a sinister move to make Sikhs the target as were the dot wearing Indians in the US at that point of time? To do this in a year, when Sikhs are commemorating the daylight murder of more than 3000 Sikhs in the capital city of Delhi is rubbing salt on our wounds. Sikhs, particularly young Sikhs are seething with anger at this kind of portrayal, and are highly perturbed.
2. The lead actor Rani Mukherjee is casually dressed as a Sikh and her whole character is stereotyping of the Sikh image so far held by Bollywood –“strong but foolish”. Why is this so? Do the makers of the movie realize that it is a Sikh face that is running India?
3. The promotional video of the movie on the internet very caustically says that Dil Bole Hadippa is “a tale of turbans, twists and tricks”. Could you not think of a more perverse way to trivialize the Sikh turban?
4. The interspersion of the display of Gatka with semi-nude Indian actresses during song sequences is nothing but blasphemy.
This is all intolerable. Under the aegis of the Film Certification and Censor Board, you should approach the Sikh community organizations in Mumbai and elsewhere and take all the necessary steps to remove offensive posters and scenes before the release of the movie on 18 September 2009.
Before another Sikh character, Rocket Singh, also of Yashraj Films hits us in the face; it is time to ensure that the sixer of the female actor does not hit the Sikh community badly, for if it does, it is likely to boomerang on you as well.
I pray that better sense will prevail and immediate corrective action will be taken. I also hope that this will enable others in Bollywood to be more careful and learned while portraying Sikh characters.
Jagmohan SinghEditor-in-Chief, World Sikh Newswww.worldsikhnews.com
Jagmohan Singh is the editor of World Sikh News. He may be contacted at jswsneditor@gmail.com

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