Rakesh Roshan lashes out at ’self-styled saviours of human dignity’

January 8th, 2009 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 8 (IANS) Filmmaker Rakesh Roshan lashed out at an organisation called Temple of Human Dignity (THD), which stormed the sets of his film “Kites” in protest against the hiring of foreigners in Bollywood films, calling them “self-styled saviours of human dignity”. Even as the Bollywood junior artistes mounted protest against hiring of foreigners for films and the issue has remained unresolved, the newly-formed THD has now come forward to take up the cause of local artistes.

While the protest of the junior artistes was purely for professional reasons, the THD has sought to make it an emotive issue by alleging that the producers who hire foreigners in preference to local junior artistes are violating the latter’s “human dignity.”

THD members, under the leadership of its president Bunty Srivastav, last week stormed the set of Rakesh Roshan’s under-production film, “Kites” and disrupted the shooting of the film at a suburban studio in Mumbai.

According to Sashank Jare, CEO of Roshan’s production banner, Filmkraft, Srivastav and his men confronted the film’s director Anurag Basu, and demanded that he replace the foreigners taking part in the shooting with local artistes.

Barbara Mori, the US-based Spanish model, plays the female lead opposite Hrithik Roshan in “Kites” which is about an Indian boy’s love affair with a Latino girl and their predicament as they do not understand each other’s language.

Barbara and a few other foreigners were present on the sets when the THD activists trooped into the studio. As the heated argument between the unit members and the THD took an ugly turn, the police had to be called in to remove the intruders.

“These self-styled saviours of human dignity had no business to storm the set of my film and take law into their own hands,” Rakesh Roshan told IANS Thursday when asked about the details of the incident.

Although the shooting continued after the police intervened and took away the THD members, Roshan was badly rattled by the disruption of the shooting at Filmistan Studio at the north-west suburb of Goregaon in Mumbai. He, however, was not present at the time THD members barged into the set without any notice.

“What happened on the set of my film is not an isolated incident. Earlier also, one or the other organisation of cine workers had similarly stormed the sets of films of some other producers, throwing the shootings into disarray on the foreigner issue. This can’t go on and on,” Roshan said.

He admitted that the issue was “grave” and therefore needed a careful and pragmatic study. He said the issue could be suitably resolved if all the associations of producers discuss it jointly with the commissioner of police, Mumbai, and the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE). He has already urged that such a joint meeting be immediately called to settle the issue once and for all.

But the FWICE is in no mood to discuss the issue. “We have nothing further to add to what we have already made known to the producers - that they should give local artistes the first preference over foreigners,” FWICE president Dharmesh Tiwari told IANS.

When asked about his view on the contention of the Junior Artistes’ Association that the foreigners - artistes, bit-role players and dancers who take part in “item numbers” - work in films without work permits, Tiwari said that neither the FWICE nor any Bollywood craft association could issue work permits to foreigners.

“As far as I know, when these foreigners who come to India for holidays on tourist visas, some of them obtain the necessary permission from the government of India to work here temporarily. But I am not sure whether they really get the same,” he said.

Neither Bunty Srivastav nor anybody from the THD agreed to talk on the controversy.

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