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Sunny Leone's biopic under fire from Sikh leaders

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"Kaur is a very respectable name given by Sikh Gurus to Sikh women. Sikhs will not allow her (Sunny Leone) to use it", says the SGPC.

The newly-released web series, ‘Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone’ has come under from fire from Sikh leaders over the use of surname ‘Kaur’ in its title.

The web series which premiered on the video streaming platform Zee 5 on July 16th is based on the turbulent life of former porn star Sunny Leone who is now a prominent name in the Indian film industry.

The Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC), the two peak bodies representing the interests of the Sikhs in India, have contended that the usage of the “pious” surname to depict a porn star’s life is derogatory for Sikhs across the world. 

In an interview with Times of India, SGPC spokesperson Daljit Singh Bedi said, “Kaur is a very respectable name given by Sikh Gurus to Sikh women. A person who didn’t follow the teachings of Sikh Gurus shouldn’t use the word Kaur as this could hurt Sikh religious feelings. Sikhs will not allow her to use it. She should tender a public apology”.

‘Kaur’ is part of Ms Leone’s real name - Karenjit Kaur Vohra, which she had changed before entering the adult-film industry in the early 2000s.

The word ‘Kaur’ which literally means a ‘princess’, was adopted by Sikhs as a mandatory surname for girls after the Sikh baptism ceremony in 1699 and therefore, holds a special significance for the people of the faith.

In a letter addressed to Subhash Chandra, the chairman of the Essel Group which owns Zee 5, DSGMC's general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa had cautioned Mr Chandra to change the title or face consequences for hurting the sentiments of the Sikhs.

But neither the protests nor the threats from the Sikh leaders seem to have affected the makers or the Essel Group, the network which holds the broadcast rights to the biopic.

On the contrary, they have come out in Ms Leone’s defence saying she has every right to use her birth name, which "cannot be changed".

Meanwhile, Harmeet Shah Singh, an editor with the India Today group, says he feels the SGPC’s stand on the issue showcases their hypocrisy towards their own people.

“One of Leone's critics has been Bibi Jagir Kaur herself, a former SGPC chief and a Kaur who had faced serious accusations of honour killing her daughter”, Mr Singh wrote in his blog published on Daily O.

Aligning with his viewpoint, netizens too have been posing the same question - why single-out Ms Leone?

The SGPC has reportedly sought legal intervention to pressure the makers to heed to their demand.

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