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If you are wondering why Akshay Kumar sounds uncharacteristically nasal and toned-down in Singh Is Kinng, producer Vipul Shah gives the answer.
"Akshay had a fierce cold while dubbing. There was no way we could postpone. So we used his nasal voice and Akshay even added a line in the dialogue about his character having a terrible zukaam."
The Friday agitations by the Students Sikh Federation about the 'wrong' depiction of Sikhs at a theatre in Amritsar has left producer Vipul Shah agitated
"My film has grossed 46-48 crore rupees over the first weekend. That's more than Om Shanti Om and Welcome which had the highest opening so far. So obviously the film has been liked. I can't please every single Sikh. Who are these agitators? This is nothing but a shortcut to fame. The boys of the Sikh Youth Federation must've thought that when the Delhi Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee protested, Akshay rushed to Delhi. In Amritsar they must've thought this is their way of getting Akshay into Amritsar. Surely there're easier ways of getting stars' attention. And Akshay couldn't spend one year moving from city to city appeasing the imagined hurt of self-appointed champions of the Sikh community. These are people who don't respect the opinion the highest authorities of their community who've said there's nothing objectionable in Singh Is Kinng. All the important and powerful bodies of the Sikh community cleared the film. What were these boys on Friday protesting about? They said they hadn't even seen the film. They just said it was an insult to Sikhism. But in what way?"
Vipul feels there are professional protestors who jump up in protest against any culture-specific cinema. "They feel somehow their culture will be threatened when on the contrary, culture-specific films like Jodhaa-Akbar and Singh Is Kinng pay a homage to the people and culture of a community."
On Friday 300 Sikhs saw Singh Is Kinng at Cinemax in Mumbai. "They were dancing the Bhangra with dhols after the screening. They told a news channel that this was the first film in 70 years of Indian cinema that had done justice to the Sikh community. What more endorsement for our motives can there be?"
Vipul admits his guilt on the beard issue. "We admit Akshay's beard should've been longer. We added a scene where Akshay says he made a mistake by trimming his beard. And in the video with Snoop Dogg during the end titles he comes with a full beard, albeit a false one. It'd have taken Akshay two years to grow a natural beard. We had told the Shirmoni Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee that the beard would be false, and they had agreed."
Vipul wants a law whereby freedom of expressions cannot be curbed. "The final authority on right and wrong in a film should be the censor board. Once the censors approve, all protests should be crushed with iron hands. Otherwise all of us should just fold up our production houses. I'm not disrespecting Sikh sentiments. So please stop hounding me for nothing."
Vipul Shah couldn't be in a happier place. "The opening of Singh Is Kinng has been incredible. Business everywhere has been thundering. But I can only rest easy after the first two weeks. I'm glad that in spite of being a comedy, Singh Is Kinng isn't vulgar. I gave my director Anees Bazmee the freedom to do what he likes. I only wanted him to tell a morally correct story. I didn't want to flinch while watching it with my sons."