Chandni Chowk to China ‘banned’ in Nepal (Lead)

January 22nd, 2009 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Akshay KumarKathmandu, Jan 22 (IANS) As protests continued to erupt on the streets of Kathmandu Thursday over Bollywood’s first Kungfu comedy “Chandni Chowk to China”, cinemas in Nepal stopped screening the controversial film, saying they had replaced it with other films.All Kathmandu valley cinemas, from multiplexes like Jai Nepal, Kumari, Gopi Krishna and Barahi, to smaller ones like Guna and Ashta Narayan, hurriedly dropped the Akshay Kumar-Deepika Padukone starrer and began showing the earlier Bollywood release “Ghajini” or waited for another Bollywood film “Raaz” to be released Friday.

The decision, that would cost the distributors of the films millions of rupees, was taken after angry protests began over the erroneous claim in the film that the Buddha, Nepal’s best-known religious icon, was born in India.

“The Buddha was born in Nepal, learn to respect Nepal’s identity and sovereignty,” students screamed during a protest rally before an engineering college in the valley Thursday. In the Lainchaur area near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, protesters marched in silence, waving placards.

“The trouble was created by the narration in the film,” said Nepali film director K.P. Pathak, who heads the Nepal Film Directors’ Association that is urging audiences to boycott all foreign films that project wrong messages.

“About five minutes into the film, the narration introduces the hero as someone born in India, the Buddha’s birthplace,” Pathak told IANS.

The Buddha was born prince Siddharth in Lumbini in south Nepal in 623 BC. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit south Nepal every year to pay their homage to the apostle of peace.

Before being released in Nepal Friday, “Chandni Chowk to China” was viewed by Nepal’s censor board who objected to the dialogue. Subsequently, the distributors deleted it.

But though the offending dialogue was removed, the word got around and students stormed the Jai Nepal cinema Wednesday, tearing down the posters of the film.

Remembering the violence that flared up in 2000 after wrongly attributed comments to Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, the distributors of “Chandni Chowk to China” Wednesday decided to can it.

“It’s not just Kathmandu valley,” officials at the Gopi Krishna cinema told IANS. “No hall in Nepal will show that film. There is a virtual ban on it.”

Despite the cinemas heeding public sentiment, the protests continued Thursday with students saying that the CDs and VCDs of the film that have reached Nepal still have the offending dialogue.

The controversy has also created bad blood between Indians and Nepalis on YouTube with messages becoming abusive.

However, the most clinching argument comes from someone signing in as Prynka.

“The bottom line is,” Prynka says, “the movie is very disappointing and it has definitely angered a lot of Nepalis for disregarding a very important part of our history….

“No one would expect a movie under the Warner Brothers’ banner to have such ignorant mistakes.”

“Chandni Chowk to China”, the first Hindi film to be shot in China, is directed by Nikhil Advani and produced by Sippy Films as well as Warner Brothers.

The Lumbini Development Trust, that manages the Buddha’s birthplace, said Indian tourist agencies also misguide travellers into believing that the Buddha was born in India.

“Before the Nepal government changed its visa policies, tourists would be brought to Nepal without being told they were entering a different country,” Nepal’s official media Thursday quoted the public relations officer at the trust, Gyanin Rai, as saying.

It also reported the Maoist Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Hisila Yami as saying that the spread of such false information should be stopped.

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