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Sikh body wants checks on portrayal of community

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS

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A leading Sikh body has demanded checks on the portrayal of the community in films and TV serials, but veteran comedian Jaspal Bhatti says there are no deliberate attempts to project Sikhs in a wrong light.

Jokes on Sikhs doing the rounds on mobile phones, the portrayal of Sikhs in films and actors playing Sikhs without bothering about the sentiments of the community have irked leaders of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, SGPC president Jagir Kaur pointed out that Sikhs were being projected as objects of fun and ridicule.

Noted Sikh comedian Bhatti, who has acted in several Bollywood films and popular TV serials, Sunday said his experience with the film industry did not reflect any deliberate attempt by people to project Sikhs in a wrong manner.

"If a comedy scene or role was to be enacted, it would depend on the script of the film and what that character was all about," Bhatti told IANS.

"I have not come across a deliberate attempt to ridicule the community. That way even Hindu priests, policemen and other people are projected in comic roles."

Jokes about the Sikh community, which has played a key role in India's armed forces and in business circles, are commonly exchanged on mobile phones and email chains.

SGPC president Kaur said Sikhs were a community of warriors who had defended the country's borders against attacks with great valour and their portrayal in films and TV serials was in bad taste.

But Bhatti said films like "Border" and "Gadar" projected Sikhs strongly and everything depended on the script of a particular film.

Kaur, however, urged the government to intervene immediately so that the wrong portrayal of Sikhs was stopped.

The SGPC has demanded that Sikh representatives should be included on the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFS), the agency that clears all films for certification.

"Only if Sikh community members were there, the wrong projection of the community would stop," Kaur said in her letter.

Kaur said Sikhs should be made part of the CBFS and the Prasar Bharti Board that controls state-run Doordarshan television and Akashvani radio channels so that the Sikh community did not have to suffer wrong projections.


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