Chandigarh, Punjab: After the Punjab government banned controversial movie ‘Sadda Haq’ which tells the reality of human right abuses in Punjab, national capital Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh UT followed suit on the day of its scheduled release this past Friday. Even in J&K, theatre owners decided not to screen the movie, though there was no official ban.
This prompted an angry initial reaction from Kuljinder Sidhu, producer and lead actor of the movie, who termed the ban “shameful” and a “black spot on democracy”. By the evening, he claimed to have got an assurance that the chief minister or his deputy would watch the movie within the next few days.
Earlier in the day, even as CM Parkash Singh Badal defended the decision by again citing potential trouble, Sidhu told press over phone from Chandigarh, “Instigated by anti-social elements, this impotent government got an excuse to ban my movie. The censor board and the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) have given the nod. This is a decision by a few bureaucrats.”
Sidhu said he tried to meet the CM as well as his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal, but didn’t get an appointment. Reiterating that the film “actually has a positive message”, he rued that his point of view had not been heard, but added that legal means would be his last recourse.
As for the SGPC, which had backed the movie, it was further embarrassed when CM Badal snapped in Patiala on Thursday, “No one from the SGPC has seen the film.” The SGPC is ruled by Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which also runs the state in alliance with the BJP.
“Maintaining law and order is our utmost priority, and we will not allow an act that threatens hard-earned peace,” Badal said, denying pressure from Hindu Terrorist organisations: “Top officials who watched the movie advised the government to stop its screening.”
The film fraternity, meanwhile, gave tempered support to Sidhu. Veteran filmmaker Manmohan Singh said, “I have not seen the film, but why the ban when the censor has cleared it? In Tamil Nadu, a similar thing happened with ‘Vishwaroopam’. Government should consider the loss to the producer before banning a film on release date.”
Writer- director Dheeraj Rattan said he sympathised with Sidhu, “However, since it is the responsibility of the government to maintain peace, if it feels that some content can harm that, it has the right to object.”
The ban pushed the SGPC on the back foot. Committee chief Avtar Singh Makkar insisted that the government had taken the decision “from the law and order perspective”. When reminded that he appointed a five-member panel that saw the film before endorsing it at the censor board, Makkar argued that he himself had not seen it.
But SGPC member Rajinder Singh Mehta, one of the members of that panel, told press, “We found nothing provocative in the film. It depicts events as they happened. Obviously, the government has a different view, and probably took the decision from the law and order angle after some objections.”
Various organizations feel that the Badal government has belittled the SGPC and Sikh institutions.
Source: HT, edited for SikhWire