Varun Dhawan defends use of dagger in Dishoom song

Actor tells agitating Sikh group that they have used Arabian dagger and not the traditional Sikh kirpan.

Varun Dhawan at the 'Sau Tarha Ke' song launch on Thursday. Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

The depiction of Sikhs in Hindi cinema has been a contentious issue for a while now with some groups taking offence at what they see as misrepresenting the community or insulting Sikh sentiments. In the latest instance, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has written to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), asking for the song 'Ishq Ka Marz' to be deleted from the upcoming film Dishoom.

The DSGMC said the song had hurt Sikh sentiments with the 'inappropriate' use of the traditional kirpan (curved dagger).

At an event to launch another track from the film, ‘Sau Tarha Ke’, today, lead actor Varun Dhawan was asked about the complaint made by the Sikh body. He defended the track and insisted that the song did not offend Sikh sentiments.

“That isn't a kirpan," Dhawan said. "We have shot this song in Morocco. It is an Arabian dagger. My brother and I are Punjabis so we wouldn't do anything like that.” The film is directed by Varun's brother Rohit Dhawan.

In a stern letter to CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, DSGMC secretary, had requested that the song be removed from the film and demanded an apology from the filmmakers.

Following is the text of the letter sent by Sirsa to Pahlaj Nihalani.

'Objecting strongly to the 'Beadbi' of Kirpan, a pious symbol of Sikhism, we asked Sh. Pehlaj [sic] Nihalani, the chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification, to instruct the removal of the video of a song titled "ishq ka marz" from the upcoming movie "Dishoom". The song depicts a semi-clad actress, Ms. Jacqueline Fernandez, dancing with a Kirpan, one of the five compulsory Kakaars worn by a practising Sikh; dangling in front of her legs and supported by a cloth belt worn around the waist by the actress and thereby made the mockery of the sacredness and respect of the religious symbols of Kirpan.

'This act is hurting sentiments of Sikhs as we are already numerous complaints in this matter from various Sikh bodies. I request CBFC to instruct director Rohit Dhawan to immediately remove all the trailers/videos of the aforesaid song uploaded at or other websites; either delete the song from the movie or re-shoot its video sans the wearing of Kirpan supported by the actress and to instruct the director and cast of the movie to make public apology to the Sikh community for the deliberate insult done to a respectable Sikh religious symbol. If CBFC fails to take appropriate action in this context, DSGMC will be compelled to initiate criminal proceedings against the director and case of the 'Dishoom' as well as against the CBFC.’

It is anybody's guess whether the defence put forward by Varun Dhawan will pacify the group. Directed by Rohit Dhawan, Dishoom stars Varun Dhawan, John Abraham, Akshaye Khanna and Jacqueline Fernandez.