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  1. Source: http://singhstation.net/2015/03/why-depicting-sikh-gurus-in-movies-is-wrong/ Amid global controversy over depictions of Sikh Guru Sahibs in movies, an upcoming biopic of Guru Nanak Dev ji’s life is causing further controversy in the Sikh world. Nanak Shah Fakir, is an upcoming Punjabi movie depicting the life of Guru Nanak Sahib where though Guru Nanak Dev ji has been shown with use of graphics, Roles of Bebe Nanaki and Mata Sulakhni ji has been enacted by human characters. Sikhism rejects any form of idol worship including worship of pictures of the Gurus. but this is so strange that despite this we hang pictures of Sikh Gurus itself in our homes and Gurdwaras on the name of education, Sikhi and inspiration. Depicting the Sikh Gurus in pictures and movies is definitely problematic. It’s a double edged sword because pictures and movies illustrating Sikh history and Saakhis can excite and rouse the spirit of Sikhi within those people who perhaps otherwise would never pick up a book on the Sikh faith. Contrary to the Guru’s teachings, It would be Manmat to portray Guru in such movies. This is a big threat to the rich Sikh history will give rise to been-lines of movies on depiction of Guru Sahibs and their family members. Even when Sobha Singh painted that picture, he did mention that this is not Guru Nanak Dev ji’s picture but instead picture of his dreams. Sadly this is also the general direction many people have taken with Sobha Singh’s work because he focused almost exclusively on the faces of the Gurus. If one reads the book ‘Bandginama‘ written by Bhai Raghbir Singh ji Bir, in which he shared his own personal story, when he started practicing Naam Simran by putting photographs of Guru Sahibaan in front of him but then later he found that when this state develops further, it becomes hard to contemplate God in His real transcendence. In fact the realization of His transcendence and our union with Him are the crown and climax, the apex and zenith of spiritual growth. Talking about upcoming movies where Sikh Gurus are depicted either with picture or animated characters, it looks we are opening the door to people to draw our Guru in different forms that could affect His status in the hearts of his people. Guru Nanak Dev sahib has been shown on screen ‘LIVE’ – walking and talking. There are dialogues by Guru Nanak character, which have been delivered by actor who played Shivji role in Hindi serial on Life OK channel ‘Devo ke Dev Mahadev’. According to DailySikhUpdates, an insider has revealed that the role of Guru Nanak has actually been played by a real human and then some effects were added to give it an animation look. Waheguru is the connection of Shabad, ‘Surat’ and ‘Dhun’ only. Talking about the character of Bebe Nanaki, sister of Dhan Guru Nanak Dev ji and first Sikh woman who adopted the path of Akal Purakh has been portrayed in the movie by Puneet Sikka. The character of Bhai Mardana ji, who was a life-long companion of Guru Nanak Dev ji and a great Gursikh, has been played by Bollywood actor Arif Zakaria. While no one knows Guru Sahib’s true appearance, the film-makers these days seek to emulate him as closely as possible – including in what they believe to be his physical features and dress with long beard contending that was Guru Sahib’s manner. It should be noted that Muslim community is still holding centuries old tradition of not depicting Prophet Mohammad in any pictorial form. There is no such thought in the minds of the Sikhs and we are getting so lenient with these depictions? If we don’t stand by it today, the day will not be far when there will be serials started such as the ones on Hindu Gods. If we really believe that Sikhs believe in Gur-Shabad, then its high time to stand together against such movie trends. Guru Rakha… http://singhstation.net/2015/03/why-depicting-sikh-gurus-in-movies-is-wrong/
  2. Recently becoming the highest grossing Indian animation films of all time (with out inflation adjustments), as well as the First 3D Sikh Movie, Chaar Sahibzaade has pretty much become a cultural phenomenon and a new Sikh Multimedia staple. The movie has been praised for its emotional and unbiased portrayal of one of the most important chapters of Sikh history. The movie has topped the business chart in other countries as well such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The movie has collected £81,348 (Rs 79.45 lakhs) from 16 screens in the UK, A$141,387 (Rs 75.31 lakhs) from 22 screens in Australia and NZ$33,832 (Rs 16.20 lakhs) from 7 screens in New Zealand in the first weekend. It has, in fact, pushed Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year down to second place in all these countries. The Punjabi version of the movie alone is on its way to become the highest grossing Indian animation film ever which at the moment is Hanuman released in 2005 after grossing around Rs 5.25 crore in net collections. The movie has received a rather high rating of 9.9 on IMDB. The State Governments of Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Uttarakhand have also declared the movie tax free. These are certainly some encouraging numbers for the Indian animation industry. I myself has personally watched the movie on big screen and yes it’s a great Movie. But Does the popularity earned by this Movie does seem to be over-hyped? Well I hate to not give you a straight forward answer, but it’s both a Yes and a No. Now why ‘yes’? Well it’s obvious, isn’t it? This is the first 3-D Animated Movie in Sikh History. This is the first time that a movie based on Sikh history has been released in so many languages and on such an expounding level. This is the first time a movie on Sikh History has been released on a world-wide level in prominent Cinemas. This is the first movie that even Singh Sahibaans from Sri Hazur Sahib have watched in the Cinema Halls. There’s certainly more I’m not covering, but yes this movie tied in new technology with breath taking Animated characters and art, and it came out as close to perfect as one could hope. Well, maybe not completely perfect… See now’s the part where you’re probably going to send me an emotional email. The part where we talk about why this movie might not be deserving that big hype First off, I’m talking about through it’s content, the Community hard-earned money, the sudden fan army and the measurable outputs. Does Chaar Sahibzaade Movie deserve it all? Frankly there are some strong points against it. Let us first look into the word ‘Hype’ itself. I have noticed from some facebook walls that some people did watch the “Chaar Sahibzaade” movie upto five times in a single month even. Really?? Why??? Was it the 3-D effects, or the beauty of technology embedded in the animated characters, the music or the story itself, that touched one’s heart to such an extent. I can understand kids watching the same movie repeatedly but why will you watch it more than once or say twice…Isn’t five times too much and that too in a single month? Shouldn’t the same time be better spent on the teachings learnt from the movie itself rather than addicting oneself to watch it again and again on the Big screen. There are organizations which are writing to Akal Takhat Sahib to categorise this movie as “Educational Movie”. Well sure, but then why not the other previously released animated movies like the ones released by Vismaad, CSJS Productions and many others. Is it because those movies were not released on a bigger scale or had such a popularity as gained by Chaar Sahibzaade movie… Scrolling through the content, there were many distorted facts in the Movie which I have already covered in my other article on review about this movie as well. Those were – Khanda Insignia on the Dastaars of Sahibzaades, which was not even invented at time of Gurus. Also Mata Gujri ji has been shown without dastaar while she was a dastar wearing Singhani and was never weak or emotional too as shown in the movie. The dialogues of Moti Mehra ji were also not correctly scripted. In saying that, I do not mean to wholly contradict the movie as it can happen with any other project or movie too. But when a movie is so much over-hyped and also watched by Prominent Sikh dignitaries, it becomes highly important to have correct sequence of facts shown on the big screen. Also I would not complain about the distorted facts to the Director or Story-writer as the movie is directed under guidance of SGPC and other well-learned Sikh Historians. No doubt that the Movie is portraying a very important chapter of Sikh History and it’s a great educational tool for our upcoming generations, but we need to understand if it is worth the Money that we have spent on the movie. The Directors might have spent nearly Rs 40 crores on the movie but the output we have given them is for Rs 300 Crores. Have we ever thought that this money has actually gone out of our community? Is this money well-spent or evidence of chronic waste? According to a study done by Australian Researchers, “The money spent is twice as efficient if it stays within the community” and it helps keeping the community alive and support better needed projects. Infact Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going. If too much money is spent outside the community even for the community projects, the money (blood) still flows out, but like a wound. Sikh community has recently evidenced many Film-directors and producers from within our community who have brought really good Sikh movies like “Proud to be Sikh”, “Sundri”, “Bhai Taru Singh ji”, Empty Inside, Rakhe Harmandir de, Ujjar thaon vaseo and many more…. But I think only 5% of the Chaar Sahibzaade Audience only might have watched or heard about the above movies as the producers of those movies had limited funds to release them on Big Screens. But just imagine the output and benefits if the same money flows via the Sikh Directors and producers who can provide a similar output. That way we will also create more jobs for our own people and promote Sikhi – “Naale Punn te Naale Faliyan”. Moving further, Some people claim that many people took amrit or promised not to cut their hair after watching the movie “Chaar Sahibzaade”. Well, our heartiest congrats to those, who were inspired and took a step further towards a Gursikhi Jeewan. Firstly let me tell you there were two main Fake pictures posted on Social Media – “One telling 34 Radha Soamis took Amrit after watching the movie” and other showing people sitting in Akal Takht Sahib awaiting to get Amrit di daat. Both the pictures had no source and were just hyped by FB Posters. People do get emotional after watching such movies and no doubt 1% of those might even make some big decisions about their life-style changes as well, but there is also proven evidence that behaviour might get altered but soon disappears too as soon as one walks outside the Cinema like a puff of bubble. Studies also show that movies can have a direct, but not sustained effect on behaviour. Let us now take a look at some of the low-budget Sikh Movies like Bhai Taru Singh ji by Vismaad Productions or Proud to be Sikh directed by Satdeep Singh. I myself have personally evidenced the people with tearful eyes and many promising the same as well that they won’t cut their hair in future or will prepare for Amrit. So my point is that if a low-budget movie can offer the same output, isn’t it better for us to save money and then spend that saved money in other much-needed projects in Sikhi. We need to measure the outputs – Is it just the 3-D effects, the fun, the tearful eyes for few minutes or are we measuring a bigger picture. No doubt, such movies are a great educational tool for our future generations but question is at what cost? Some people may argue on this that the money given back to producers like Harry Baweja will promote other Bollywood producers to bring more such movies on Sikh History in the Market. But my question is – Is that what we want? Do every time we want to return 10 times to the producers outside the community and especially to the ones for whom it is just a business. Have we done enough Needs-based assessment? Have we determined what output is it going to bring to Sikh Community. We don’t need to measure only short-term benefits but should look towards long-term goals as well. There is much more we can get into this, but I believe we need to first PAUSE here and think about above points first. So, I guess we’re back to where we started. Does one, Sikh movie deserve this constant overabundance of hype? No matter, how educational, emotional the movies may be, we need to think from all angles and we need to limit the money spent. People may argue that its better to spend money watching such movies rather than spending same money on another bollywood movie portraying Sikhs as jokers…but lets even look at a wider picture. Something IS NOT ALWAYS better than NOTHING. Pls think strategically considering Long term goals, think from Gursikhi point of view and then provide your feedback or comments. Originally posted at: http://singhstation.net/2014/11/movie-chaar-sahibzaade-really-deserve-overhype/
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