After ban, Nepal to start diplomatic war over ‘Chandni Chowk to China’

January 23rd, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Akshay KumarKathmandu, Jan 23 (IANS) After banning “Chandni Chowk to China” in all 75 districts of Nepal for wrongly claiming the Buddha to have been born in India, the Himalayan republic is now bracing for a fresh diplomatic offensive against Bollywood’s first Kungfu comedy that has become controversial overnight.Nepal’s council of ministers headed by Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” Friday decided that besides banning the film in the country, the foreign ministry would take up the issue with India’s external affairs ministry.

The Indian government would be asked to approach the makers of the film and ask them to erase the offending and misleading claim about the Buddha being born in India from the original version.

Scripted by Bollywood writer Shridhar Raghavan and directed by Nikhil Advani, “Chandni Chowk to China” triggered angry protests in Nepal soon after its release Friday when it became known that the narration, introducing the hero played by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, claimed he was born in India, the Buddha’s birth place.

The Buddha was born more than 2,500 years ago in the kingdom of Kapilavastu ruled by the Shakya kings, which lies in southern Nepal near the Indian border. The garden in Lumbini town, where the birth is recorded as having taken place in 623 BC, draws tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims to Nepal every year.

Though Nepal’s censor board objected to the false claim when it viewed it before the film’s release in Nepal and the distributors of the film had the offending statement deleted, the pirated CDs and VCDs smuggled into the country however contained the error and fuelled public anger.

Nepal’s Film Journalists’ Association is now demanding that the Bollywood director and scriptwriter tender an apology.

It is also asking the Maoist government of Nepal to ask all Nepali missions abroad to inform the host governments and audiences of the error the film is projecting.

“Chandni Chowk to China”, produced by Sippy Films and co-produced by the American company Warner Brothers, was released worldwide Friday amidst varying reviews.

In 2003, there were similar protests in Nepal after an Indian academic claimed that the Buddha was born in Orissa state in eastern India.

The Buddha and Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, are two of Nepal’s best-known and most-loved icons. Both recently replaced the image of deposed king Gyanendra in the Himalayan republic’s new currency notes.

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