India-Canada Feud: Will Diljit’s Films Pay The Price?

The cancellation of Canadian rapper Shubh’s India concert was described by a well-placed source in the government as the “tip of the iceberg”.

Cultural events and content of films pertaining to Punjab and the Sikh community are likely to be scrutinised even more closely now.

Diljit Dosanjh finds himself in more than one controversial film.

Honey Trehan’s Ghallughara, the bio-pic on human-rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, and Imtiaz Ali’s Chamkila, based on the life of singer Amar Singh Chamkila who was slain at the age of 28, feature Dosanjh in the lead.

Ghallughara and Chamkila are likely to undergo even more rigorous scrutiny than they already have, and may not make it to the screen at all.

Ghallughara is the third film based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots featuring Diljit. Diljit did a moving film on the 1984 riots, 1984, directed by Anurag Singh.

While that was set in rural Punjab, Jogi was set in Delhi. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, it released on Netflix in September 2022.

Although Netflix has the rights to stream Chamkila, hence technically exempted from censorship, the streaming platform is likely to abstain from releasing the film in the near future given the tense situation after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that the killing of a Khalistani supporter in Surrey, British Columbia, was linked to Indian government agents.

While announcing his participation in Chamkila, Diljit Dosanjh had said, ‘Playing Amar Singh Chamkila has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I am thrilled to be returning to Netflix with yet another exciting story. It has been a pleasure to work with Parineeti Chopra and the entire team that has worked extremely hard to bring this beautiful story to life.’

‘To be able to sing to (A R) Rahman sir’s exemplary music was a meditative experience and I hope I have been able to do justice to his vision. Thank you Imtiaz bhajee for believing in me for this role.’

A source close to the Censor Board says the issue of cinema on Punjab is no more a censorial concern. “It is now seen as a matter of national security.”

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