See last minute update at the end of this article!
Mumbai and Panaji (IANS) — A delegation of representatives of Catholic groups and a priest representing the Archdiocese of Bombay met and submitted a memorandum to Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Leela Samson Saturday.
Copies of the memorandum highlighting the community’s grievances have also been sent to Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and censor board CEO Pankaja Thakur, according to Judith Monteiro, secretary of Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC).
“We have registered our protest against the movie. We have demanded a special screening of the movie urgently and deletion of objectionable scenes based on a review by the Catholic community representatives,” Monteiro said.
Catholic Secular Forum chief Joseph Dias pointed out that stereotyping of Christians has existed in films.
“This time with the priest shown in such bad light, Bollywood has hit a new low. We call for the resignation of Leela Samson and transfer of (Pankaja) Thakur,” an angry Dias said.
Father Rueben Tellis, representative of the Archdiocese of Bombay, also referred to an earlier movie, Kya Superkool Hai Hum which had offensive scenes of a Catholic priest shown solemnising a marriage between dogs, and reiterated the community’s demand for a permanent representative on the censor board to prevent such recurrences in the guise of “cinematic liberty”.
Demanding a special screening by Monday, Monteiro listed out some of the objectionable scenes which have hurt the community’s sentiments.
These include a Catholic priest (Asrani) dancing with a rosary around his neck and wearing a garland of lottery tickets with a church in the background, an actor (Shreyas Talpade) misusing and indiscriminately using the Holy Water Sprinkler, a priest with a bouquet of flowers with an ‘I Love You’ message, a notorious character with garlands of currency notes shown with the church in the background, among others.
Protest in Mumbai
On Wednesday 26 September, Catholic groups in Mumbai protested the portrayal in bad light of the clergy and community in Bollywood movies, with specific reference to Kamaal Dhamaal Malamal and Kya Super Kool Hai Hum.
In a flash protest, starting from St. Peter’s Church in suburban Bandra in northwest Mumbai, over 100 representatives of five groups took out a procession to Indian Motion Picture Producers (IMPPA) and Film Makers Combine (FMC) office a few kilometres away.
The protestors belonged to the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum (MCYF), Catholic Residents Organisation for Social Services (CROSS) and Catholics for Preservation of Faith (CPF).
The groups demanded that the objectionable scenes be deleted from Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaa, where a priest is depicted dancing. The protestors were angered by the use of Catholic imagery in the films, and the portrayal of men in the community as a bunch of drunkards, while women were depicted as being of easy virtue.
They also demanded that a representative appointed by the Archdiocese of Mumbai be nominated on the censor board to vet movies that depict the Catholic community.
They pointed out that allowing “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” without clearance from the community amounted to adding insult to injury, as the film mocks and ridicules the faith. The groups have therefore decided to file FIRs against all concerned for hurting religious sentiments.
A delegation had earlier met Pankaja Thakur, CEO of the censor board, along with Fr. Reuben Tellis, the Catholic Church representative, but was disappointed by the response.
The protestors demanded the resignation of Pankaja Thakur, and also sought the resignation of Leela Samson, chairperson of the Central Board of Film Cetification (CBFC).
The groups have called for the closure of the Mumbai office of the censor board, claiming that it was no more than a lobby of the film industry, insensitive to the sentiments of the community.
Representatives of the IMPPA and FMC accepted the memorandum submitted by the protestors, assuring them of greater self-restraint. The protestors were also assured that a communication to this effect would be sent to the film fraternity, seeking that they abstain from hurting religious sentiments.
Goa Catholics offended by Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal
After protests in Mumbai, the Christian community in Goa is up in arms against Priyadarshan’s latest film Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal.
The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) has threatened to disallow the screening of the film in the state if “objectionable” scenes in it are not deleted.
“If the film is screened in Goa we will protest. We will make sure that it is not shown,” GCWU spokesperson Juino de Souza told IANS on Wednesday, 26 September.
“If need be we will involve the chief minister and Christian legislators in the Goa assembly,” de Souza said.
The GCWU here has raised objection to scenes of a Roman Catholic priest shaking a leg to peppy music, and the “abuse” of symbolic Christian images like a cassock wearing priest fooling around with the Holy Water and wearing a garland of lotteries.
“Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal”, which releases this week, stars Nana Patekar, Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Shakti Kapoor, and has been produced by Percept Picture Company.
Joseph Dias, on behalf of the Christian-Catholic Secular Forum (CCSF), accused the film industry of taking the Catholic faith for granted.
“We don’t even protest vociferously enough, let aside come on to the streets or be violent. No one is advocating violence, but a legal protest must go out from every Christian and Church… if we are to live with respect and not as second-class citizens,” he told reporters.
Last minute update
Just after this article was published, we have received the following report from Fides News Agency:
The scenes considered “blasphemous” concerning people and symbols of the Christian faith in the Bollywood film Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaa, will be eliminated before the release in cinemas: this was assured by the Censor Board. As reported by the Catholic sources of Fides Agency, the film’s producers have accepted the admonition received and, in an act of self-discipline, decided to eliminate offending scenes from the movie, before its release.
In a statement sent to Fides, Catholic groups ave welcomed the outcome of the case and suspended all forms of demonstrations, as well as its intention to denounce the producers for “blasphemy.” The Indian Bishops had also raised their voices, expressing to Fides their “strong disappointment” and calling on the authorities intervention for the protection of religious symbols.
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