In an exclusive interview with DSU, the producer of “Nanak Shah Fakir” Harinder Sikka gave a deeper insight into the film. We have posted the full transcription of the interview, word by word.
What has the response from the film Festivals ?
The film has been lauded by people. We’ve shown it at film festivals and have received a tremendous response from both Sikhs and non-Sikhs.
The film was given a red carpet at the Sikh Festivals at Toronto and Los Angeles, USA. In LA, the hall had a capacity of about 500 people but nearly 900 sat inside to watch the film.
How many of those people were Sikhs and what were their reactions?
About 80% were Sikhs and not even a single Sikh complained about anything in the film and every five minutes there were jaikare of ‘Bole So Nihal’. The highest number of Jaikare came when Guru Nanak Dev Ji cured a leper.
Not many Sikhs would be able to answer even the basics of Sikhism. Why? Because we haven’t done parchar. Bhai Mardana was Guru Nanak’s favorite Sikh but no Sikh organization has ever propagated anything about Bhai Mardana.
My entire film shows teachings through Bhai Mardana’s eyes. Why we haven’t done parchar about Bhai Mardana? Most of us don’t know that Bhai Mardanda died in the lap of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Can there be anything more pious than to die in the lap of the Guru? For whatever reason, Bhai Mardana’s story has been neglected by our system.
So you feel most of the history shown in the Film has been neglected by Parcharaks and Kathavachaks and never got to the Sikhs?
The entire film is through the eyes of Bhai Mardana. He was a teenager when he joined Guru Sahib and remained with him till he passed away. He even didn’t participate in his own daughter’s wedding. It’s yet a blessing to have done so. But how many people in our community even know this fact?
Also, before putting any scene in the film, it has been cross checked by Sikh scholars, particularly Prof. Amrit Basra, a researcher at Bhai Vir Singh Sadan.
If we are denying ourselves of our own history and deep rooted culture, then that is bad. But if we are not allowing someone else to promote Guru sahab’s message, then it is even worse.
Has the Sikh panth todate made an official English translation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji ? One can see several books in the market that carry incorrect translation. Some have demeaned the Holy Granth sahib. This has been going on for decades. Why has there been no attempt to stop such publications?
Harrinder Sikka Expresses Concerns on How Anti Sikh Groups Try to Diminish Sikh History
I’ve seen a hindi translation, duly sanctioned by the authorities. This books spits venom, uses utterly foul language against our Gurus. Why has our system not spoken or voiced concern against this book? Why it took individuals to take up the matter in the court? Who allowed such a book to come out in the first place? This book, that was supposed to have been approved by the authorities uses words like “Nanak mar gaya.” There is an attempt to demean Guru Granth Sahib Ji by certain sects of society and to undermine the holy scripture.
Til date there hasn’t been any official translation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. To add on, only a very small section of Followers can read and write Punjabi. Futhermore, there is hardly any authentic literature available on Guru Sahib that can be read by a common man. In the digital era, no one has time to read, the younger generation isn’t willing to put two eyes on a piece of paper for more then a minute.
Why did you choose Video?
Various films, such as Nanak Naam Jahaz hai, Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe, Chaar Sahibzaade have shown that in just 2 hours, you can understand and promote much more than what thousands of books can’t. Is it not our duty to change with time? Sikhs are being mistaken as terrorists in many parts of the world because we haven’t propagated our faith, our culture to the world.
When the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival market, a high ranking French official commented, ‘if this film was shown in France then turban related issues of Sikhs in this country would end.’
We have done years of demonstrations but France has remained unmoved, but a 2 hour film on Guru Sahab’s teachings made them think all over again.
In our old Indian books, Sanskrit was used as the main language. But the Pandits and Brahmins of yesteryears didn’t allow Sanskrit to become a common man’s language. Even Guru Nanak Sahab used words from Sanskrit. For example, the Aarti that we all sing every day has many Sanskrit words. Today, Sanskrit has vanished only because it was in the grips of the pandits of the past.
Do we want the same thing to happen to us?
The film, Passion of the Jesus Christ brought many Christians back to the faith. Next year a film on Prophet Mohammad Sahib is coming up. Every society and religion is understanding the far reaching impact of the digital media. If we don’t, we’ll have only ourselves to blame.
Your response to few Sikhs who are protesting?
A small segment of Sikh society can not decide what is in the best interest of the entire community. If they wish to ban, why not ban liquor, tobacco, cigarettes, and songs which are sung all day like “Patiala Peg”? Why not ban unofficial literature which demeans and belittles our culture and faith?
A sincere attempt has been made and that too at an international class with the sole purpose of spreading the Guru’s message. No income from this project shall come to the producers’ home. But it’s sad that a select number of people begin lobbying, without even watching the film, ironically using the same digital media to spread falsehood. Can we not be positive about our faith?
Regarding Human Form? Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s is shown from the back as you say, can you elaborate on that?
Guru Nanak Dev Ji has been portrayed from the back, amidst a ray of light even as Chaar Sahibzaade shows Guru Gobind Singh Ji from the front. The moot question is, who decides what is to be shown and what not? No one knows what is the official version. When was it written? Who circulated? Who wrote it? And if there was a circular, an official document which said so, then why was Chaar Sahibzaade cleared?
Your response to the negative publicity happening to the film among certain Sikh Groups?
I have graciously travelled in my dreams with Guru Sahib and am thankful to have re-lived the dream through this pious film. Instead of opposing select groups, I would rather prefer to sit with them. Before bringing the film in public domain, I showed it to the Sikh intelligentsia, the learned and those in the authority. Whatever has caused select people to change their minds, I am sure it can be debated and a common ground be reached at. It’s finally for the people to decide. We will cross that bridge eventually.
What message do you have for Sikhs regarding the film?
I want to send a clear cut message through Daily Sikh Updates that the film is only made to promote Guru Sahib’s Bani and teachings through the eyes of Bhai Mardana. Those who are opposed, are they doing gross injustice to Guru Sahib’s teachings? Is it not our duty to promote Guru Sahib’s Bani and teaching?
There is a lot of anti-media against our own scriptures. What steps are we taking stop this? Official books get printed at the behest of the authorities. Who’s behind such mistakes, why haven’t we spoken about it, eleven if it was a genuine mistake?
We are like a frog in the well and refuse to understand that there exists an ocean out there. Even NASA is doing research on Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings. Today, NASA is saying what Guru Sahib said over 500 years ago, without using any scientific equipment. ‘Patala patal, lakh agasha agash, bhai wich sooraj, bhai wich chand, koh karori chalat na antt’.
Has any scripture from our authorities ever been translated for the masses? What we have done is that we have locked up Guru Sahib’s teachings amidst bureaucratic walls so that no one can do anything without permissions. Teachings of Guru Sahib are enormous and need to spread in sync with present day needs and medium that includes, and not excludes the younger generation. Man made orders need to be changed with time and need, so as to meet with the present day requirements.
How were you enlightened?
The teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji came to me thanks to a Muslim Kashmiri Woman. It’s not that other faiths don’t worship Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I was blessed to understand about Guru Sahib and his teachings.
Any remarkable incident you remember during the shooting or during the Film Festivals?
Yes, at Cannes, an Iranian lady waited for over 6 hours outside our booth on the last day of the festival. She had requested for a poster of Guru Sahib which I could have parted only at the end of the festival. Soon as I handed over the poster to her, she held it respectfully in both her hands, bowed and said, “Mere Wahe Guru.” I still can’t control my tears, her words, ‘mere Wahe Guru’ echo in my heart and soul. Those who are opposing this film will never understand why an Iranian woman said, “Mere Wahe Guru.”
Have you thought of what you will do with the proceeds from the film?
The entire film is a journey of miracles and the fruits must be shared with those universally and not to one sect of people. The aim of the exercise will be to locate people who have done honest work for humanity. I personally would not like to be part of that group so that I don’t influence anyone. We have already shortlisted few people who have impeccable credibility to take over this task.
What’s the difference between “Chaar Sahibzaade” and “Nanak Shah Fakir” in terms of Business?
Unlike “Chaar Sahibzaade” which was made with commercial interest in mind, Nanak Shah Fakir makes an endeavor to spread Guru Nanak’s teachings with a selfless motive.
Regarding people speaking out from your own team in the mainstream media, Any responses?
I have every proof and documents against some people’s fake claims. It was yet by a sheer miracle that some were caught red handed stealing our film. Yet I wrote to the Crime Branch, Mumbai to let them go, lest their career be ruined. In fact, in one of the courts, an observation was made to the petitioner who had made fake claims, “I want to meet the man whose lets you go each time you apologise. .”
This film is not about ‘I, me and myself’. It’s about a journey that is filled with miracles. I have learned a lot from Guru Sahib and if a person like me can learn, even after crossing 50, then I think everyone, especially the younger generation can learn, even faster.