Sat Jan 27, 2007
AHMEDABAD (Reuters) – "Parzania", a new film based on brutal 2002 riots in Gujarat, is not being shown in the state, where the killing left nearly 2,500 mainly Muslims dead, with rightwing Hindus saying it may hurt the sentiments of the majority community.
The film is set against the backdrop of the violence which erupted after 59 Hindus died in a train fire blamed by many on a Muslim mob in the state's Godhra town.
Critically acclaimed "Parzania" was released across much of India on Friday.
But in Gujarat cinema owners decided not to screen the film until it has been "approved" by Hindu groups that in the past have prevented the showing of films they opposed.
"We are worried that if we screen it there could be some protests and our properties and cinema-goers could be at risk," a multiplex owner in Ahmedabad, who did not want to be named, said.
Los Angeles-based director Rahul Dholakia told Reuters he would personally distribute the film in Gujarat.
"I hope the exhibitors come forward and release the movie. If the owners are feeling threatened … then it is the job of the state government to protect them," he said.
"The film is pro-humanitarian, it is not blaming a community. I hope the film is seen by Gujaratis because it is about them."
But radical Hindu outfit Bajrang Dal said the film may hurt the sentiments of India's Hindu majority.
"We will see the movie first and then allow its release in Gujarat," said Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the group. "If the movie hurts the Hindu sentiments, then in no way will we permit its screening."
The film portrays the true story of the disappearance of a 13-year-old boy, Azhar Mody, and his parents' fruitless search.
The restriction on the film's release in Gujarat is a setback to Dholakia and the family's renewed hope to find Azhar, whose family are Parsis, members of the Zoroastrian community in India, but were still attacked by rioters.
"One of the most important aims of the film is to help Dara and Rupa Mody find their son," Dholakia said last week.
Under Supreme Court orders, Gujarat's Hindu nationalist state government has to give a progress report on riot investigations — which have become mired in charges of political interference and cover ups — every three months.