Sikh Group Expresses Concern Over Villainous Portrayal Of Non-Malays In 'Mat Kilau' Film
A new film about a Malay warrior who fought the British colonialists in Pahang, British Malaya before independence has run into controversy over its villainous portrayal of non-Malays, namely the turbaned Sikhs
United Sikhs Malaysia — the local chapter of a New York-based international NGO — has expressed concern that the film, Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan, may create religious and racial misunderstandings.
Noting that the film is a fictional portrayal of a historical figure and that it shows the spirit of the Malays, the group regretted how members of other races and religions were portrayed in the blockbuster film.
United Sikhs Malaysia noted that the distasteful manner in which turbaned Sikhs were shown in the film could lead to racial disharmony
"In particular, we note that turbaned Sikhs — who were British soldiers in the movie — were portrayed to have laid hands on old folks, children, and helpless citizens. These parts were added by the producers to make a compelling storyline," the group said, adding that the Sikh code of practice prohibits its followers from laying hands on children, women, the elderly, and helpless citizens, even during a war.
Whilst the controversial scenes in the movie were fictional, it Is distasteful and hurts the sentiments of Sikhs.
The group has urged the Malaysian film industry not to produce movies at the expense of hurting racial and religious sentiments
Meanwhile, the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) said that it will not hinder or obstruct anyone from releasing films
It defended its RM1.8 million funding for Mat Kilau, saying that it was done through the Digital Content Fund, which is aimed at providing a conducive post-production environment for the film's development.
The central government agency, however, urged filmmakers to respect multicultural sensitivities.
"As a body advancing the country's film industry, FINAS urges creative industry players to be aware of sensitivities of audiences in this culturally and religiously rich country," its chairperson Zurainah Musa said.