Sikhi Aaj Kal

TLH_SAK.gifI’ll admit…Bollywood movies were boycotted and banned in my household as far back as I can remember, so maybe these “religious sensitivity pre-screenings” are common…but the course of events surrounding this new movie is still quite strange…even for Bollywood’s standards.

Last week, a new movie titled “Love Aaj Kal” was released, with Saif Ali Khan playing a Sikh as the lead male role. However, shortly before the release, the Punjab Cultural and Heritage Board objected to his portrayal of a Sikh.

Explaining their stand, Charan Singh Sapra, President of Punjabi Cultural And Heritage Board informed a tabloid, We are objecting on the grounds that Saif is shown with a very trim beard.”

Long story short, after Khan’s formal apology and a paparazzi-filled press conference at Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Dadar – 15 seconds of a questionable scene was cut from the movie and Khan declared he would not portray a Sikh “incorrectly” again in future roles. All smiles, the Punjabi Cultural And Heritage Board gave the movie “two thumbs up” and the green light to proceed.

I guess I should be happy that an organization is concerned enough about the image of Sikhs to raise such a fuss…except for the fact that we’re talking about fantasy-land. My question is…where is the organization that cares about the Sikh image in real life?

This is where I’m supposed to dive in to the failures of the Akal Takht, SGPC, Akali Dal, and all the other historic institutions who seem to be tied up in other pressing issues rather than investing in meaningful parchar and programs to bring wavering Sikhs (especially youth) back to the Sikhi fold…but I’m not going to do that. Too often these institutions are made the scapegoat for all our community’s ills. And frankly, as a Sikh living in North America – I feel our camps, conferences, retreats, civil rights organizations, and educational& developmental institutions have filled the void to move the Panth forward.

Even with such effective institutions, we cannot under-estimate the influence that media and pop culture have on Sikh youth – all over the world, but especially in Punjab and India. This is where we fall short. We have not managed to effectively use these same tools to promote a positive image of Sikhi – both in terms of Sikhi Saroop and Sikh principles.

I wasn’t really feeling the Teri Meri Bas video at first, but I now appreciate the vision and effort to use a music video in conveying such an important message. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are so many talented Sikh artists out there – MCs, singers, musicians, poets, artists, and film-makersmany of whom I’m sure are loyal TLH readersso this is a challenge to you. A challenge to use your craft in presenting a positive image of Sikhs and Sikhi. A challenge to find creative ways to present Sikh ideals and principles. Personally, I’m tired of complaining about Bollywood and whining over offensive lyrics of Punjabi singerstired of beingon the defense. Let’s call the shots ourselvesand put something out there we can all be proud of!


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10 Responses to “Sikhi Aaj Kal”

  1. rimmy! says:

    Thanks so much for the post veerji!

    I didn't realize how serious of an issue this was until my recent trip to punjab.

    Even though brothers kept the kesh on their heads, spotting an untrimmed beard on a man under the age of 40 was like spotting a rose growing from a crack in the concrete.

  2. rimmy! says:

    Thanks so much for the post veerji!
    I didn’t realize how serious of an issue this was until my recent trip to punjab.
    Even though brothers kept the kesh on their heads, spotting an untrimmed beard on a man under the age of 40 was like spotting a rose growing from a crack in the concrete.

  3. Rajinder Singh says:

    Seeking an apology from an actor is silly, especially when so many sikh actors themselves (Gurdas Mann, Harbhajan Mann, etc), have been portraying sikhs – as without turbans.

    I am not a great fan of these films anyway – just cant sit through them without significant discomfort, but decided to chime in nonetheless- to kick the can further down.

  4. Rajinder Singh says:

    Seeking an apology from an actor is silly, especially when so many sikh actors themselves (Gurdas Mann, Harbhajan Mann, etc), have been portraying sikhs – as without turbans.

    I am not a great fan of these films anyway – just cant sit through them without significant discomfort, but decided to chime in nonetheless- to kick the can further down.

  5. indian sikh and prou says:

    at least someone sitting in Fiji or new zealand or Europe will come to know that the people who wear turban are not only Taliban but there is also a community called Sikhs who wear turban as well,rest assured we can never satisfy one particular section of our Sikh community anyway,keep it up bollywood because of you two people i know back home have started wearing turbans and there is a new passion about wearing turban,just wait to see ranbir kapoor in a sikh's role in an upcoming movie which is gonna influence a lot of youth in india and punjab.well i can't say the same about my khalistani brothers because they will never change.because sikh religion is unfortunately divided into two parts one which believe in khalistan and its ideology and one which does not and i am proud that i belong to the second group….waheguru tera shukar hai

  6. indian sikh and proud of it says:

    at least someone sitting in Fiji or new zealand or Europe will come to know that the people who wear turban are not only Taliban but there is also a community called Sikhs who wear turban as well,rest assured we can never satisfy one particular section of our Sikh community anyway,keep it up bollywood because of you two people i know back home have started wearing turbans and there is a new passion about wearing turban,just wait to see ranbir kapoor in a sikh’s role in an upcoming movie which is gonna influence a lot of youth in india and punjab.well i can’t say the same about my khalistani brothers because they will never change.because sikh religion is unfortunately divided into two parts one which believe in khalistan and its ideology and one which does not and i am proud that i belong to the second group….waheguru tera shukar hai

  7. an Indian sikh says:

    with you on that, indian sikh and proud of it.

    go bollywood!! SINGH IS KING!!

  8. an Indian sikh says:

    with you on that, indian sikh and proud of it.

    go bollywood!! SINGH IS KING!!

  9. iSingh says:

    These groups are setup by good for nothings looking for every opportunity to demonstrate 'sardari' and 'badmaashi'. And in effect talibanizing Sikhism. This protest must have been the only significant activity of this random board, except maybe a fancy dress competition here and there.

  10. iSingh says:

    These groups are setup by good for nothings looking for every opportunity to demonstrate 'sardari' and 'badmaashi'. And in effect talibanizing Sikhism. This protest must have been the only significant activity of this random board, except maybe a fancy dress competition here and there.