Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Parzania Unofficially Banned in Gujarat

Gujarat tries to portray an image as a progressive state, but it trips up ever so often. The latest incident is the movie Parzania, a hard look at the Gujarat riots, which definitely does not portray the state in a positive light. Hence, the movie is getting informally banned in the state, through the pressure of organizations such as the Bajrang Dal. The Express report:

Gujarat's multiplex owners today decided not to screen Parzania after holding meetings with Bajrang Dal activists and the film's director, Rahul Dholakia, who later said that the state state government did not "have the guts to formally impose a ban on the film".
However, what is said to be behind the decision is a veiled threat from Bajrang Dal activist Babu Bajrangi who feels the film has the "potential to disrupt the communal harmony" in the state. Interestingly, neither Bajrangi nor any of his Dal mates who sat at the meeting have seen Parzania.

It is such incidents that take the sheen off the Gujarat development story. The riots of 2002 were a blot on the state (without getting into a discussion about reasons/justifications), and one would have expected that the state would try to correct it's image.
It is not a good reflection on an administration where decisions on whether to run movies are not decided by government policy, but by the wishes of a private individual. And I would expect that the statement of the Bajrang Dal is not a reflection of the wishes of the state. It is the duty of a state to respect and enforce commercial and individual rights, and Gujarat has miserably failed in this particular area.
One can only hope that better sense prevails on the political leadership of Gujarat, and they do not see a movie as threatening their government. And even if they do, as long as a movie (or book, or any other such thing) has got the proper clearances, the Government is duty bound to follow the law.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:55 AM