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Jo Bole So Nihaal: Harmless Entertainment
The Sikh Times, Jul. 9, 2005
Photo: Cover of the 'Jo Bole So Nihaal' D.V.D.
I watched the much maligned movie the other day, fully prepared to be offended, but found it to be both harmless and entertaining.
The film depicts several heartwarming scenes of Sikh/Punjabi culture before shifting location to New York City.
The 'jo bole so nihaal...sat sri akal' jaikara (battle cry) is used rather appropriately by Sunny Deol's lead character, Nihaal Singh, during his hunt for Romeo, the villain.
Apparently, Sunny Deol, who plays a turbaned Sikh Punjab Police constable, has been sporting headgear to cover his balding head in all of his recent movies.
The F.B.I.'s ineptness at apprehending the terrorist Romeo inspires Nihaal to nickname them 'Fully Bewkoof Insaan' (Completely Idiotic People).
While it's not clear if this version of the movie was released before or after the New Delhi cinema hall bombings, the movie does start with the disclaimer: 'This is not a religious flim [sic].'
The movie's controversial title, which has drawn the most flak, seems ultimately justified when Nihaal uses the call-and-response nature of the battle cry to uncover the villain's false identity and clear his own name.
Therefore, the film helps familiarize non-Sikhs with the Sikh slogan, which hasn't been used gratuitously - it turns out to be central to the film's plot.
The level of lewdness is certainly no more pronounced than what is generally featured in commercial Indian movies today.
Some of the comedy, such as the effects of Nihaal Singh's psychic link with his mother, is clearly over the top.
Deol's character is honest, lovable, simple, zestful, proud, has a pressing urge to lead, and looks dashing in a turban.
If Sikhs can 'use it [the jaikara] as a toast before they start drinking' (Khushwant Singh, Outlook, Jun. 6, 2005), then surely it seems silly to search for offense in this jovial movie.
Not surprisingly, pirated copies of the banned movie are said to be selling like hot cakes, or shall I say garam jalebis, in Punjab.
This motion picture is worth watching once.