Filmmakers should “desist from disturbing the uneasy calm in society”, the Maharashtra Sikh Association said on Monday, days after “The Kashmir Files” director Vivek Agnihotri announced his next movie, “The Delhi Files”.
Mr Agnihotri, whose movie “The Kashmir Files” emerged as one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, announced his new project last week.
There has been speculation that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots will feature in the filmmaker’s next movie “The Delhi Files”, but the director has not yet confirmed the plot details.
In a press release, the Maharashtra Sikh Association said it expresses “strong reservation against the exploitation and commercialisation of unfortunate tragic chapters of humankind like the Sikh riots by people in the name of creative expression and personal profiteering”.
When reached for a comment, Mr Agnihotri said as a filmmaker he had the right to express himself and make the film that his “conscience” guides him to. He also said that he has not revealed the subject of his film beyond the title.
“I have no idea which organisation is this. I’m an Indian, I live in a sovereign state which gives me full right to express myself in whichever manner I want. I will make what I need to make, what my conscience tells me to make. I am not a servant to anybody’s demands or organisations,” Mr Agnihotri said.
“I have not even announced what I’m making, why I am making it. People are making assumptions, which they can keep making. But ultimately it is only for the CBFC to decide what kind of film I make and if it should be allowed to release or not,” he said.
The association, which calls itself a nodal body actively involved in the social, cultural, education sports and religious activities in the state related to its close-knit Sikh community, said Mr Agnihotri, “emboldened with the controversy and hype” created by “The Kashmir Files” is intending to “commercialise tragedy of humankind like the 1984 riots”.
“There is already polarisation in the society and hatred among various communities and vivid depiction of unfortunate tragic incidents of the history in a commercial way will only foment the ill feelings and fragile peace,” it said.
“India is a land of unity in diversity and people professing different faiths have tried to live in harmony and peace with each other and the Sikh community is trying to forget the dark chapter in the history of sikh community,” their statement read.
The association said the riots and destruction of lives has been widely condemned, with many documentaries being made and books being published, but “these sagas of organised pogroms against Sikh community were never commercialised”.
The association said slowly, the wounds are healing and the Sikh community is “trying to forget the past and move ahead”.
“Many of the culprits have either died or are behind the bars. Justice has come with delay, but it has come. Even the then Government had apologised for these riots in the Parliament,” it said.
“By extracting profits by depicting deaths in gory details will only result in poisoning the minds of the new generation, who might have heard about it but now seeing them on screen will boil their blood, and spread hatred against others… It would be a deliberate attempt to reopen the wounds of the old and vitiate the fragile peace in the society. This is neither correct nor ethical,” it added.
In the statement, the association said if a film has to be made, it should be about “fostering unity, harmony, brotherhood and national integration”.
“The creative pursuits depicting the teachings of our revered Gurus will send a positive message in the society. Maharashtra Sikh Association joins the voice of Indian diaspora worldwide and the Sikh community in particular in asking the makers of ‘The Kashmir Files’ to desist from disturbing the uneasy calm in the society,” the statement concluded.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)