Lazy eyes listen
Cinemas in Nepal’s two largest cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara on the banks of Lake Phewa, have banned Bollywood films due to a “objectionable” passage in a new Indian action picture, ‘Adipurush,’ which opened on June 16.
The film is shot in Telugu, which is widely spoken in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as well as Hindi, India’s national language. Om Raut wrote and directed the film, which is based on the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’ and is produced by Indian businesses T-Series and Retrophiles. Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon, Sunny Singh, and Devdatta Nage appear in it.
The mayors of Kathmandu and Pokhara have taken issue with a remark in the film that refers to one of the main characters, Janaki, as “India’s daughter.” Janaki is another name for the goddess Sita, wife of the Hindu god Lord Ram, who was abducted by the demon king Ravana in the ‘Ramayana’.
Hindus make up around 80% of the Nepalese people, and they believe Sita was born in Janakpur in modern-day Nepal. Janakpur, located around 220 kilometers from Kathmandu on the border with India, was previously part of the Mithila monarchy under King Janak. The name Janaki derives from the fact that Sita was adopted by King Janak and nurtured as his daughter in the epic.
The mayor of Kathmandu, Balendra Shah, published a social media post ordering cinemas in the capital to stop screening all Bollywood films. ‘Adipurush’ producers have been ordered to remove the “objectionable dialogue,” he added. “No Indian film will be allowed to be screened in the Kathmandu municipality area until this objectionable part of the film is removed from the film,” the post stated.
According to Indian news agency ANI, Dhanraj Acharya, mayor of Pokhara Metropolitan City, has also urged movie theaters to stop showing Bollywood films.
Manoj Muntashir Shukla, the film’s co-writer, has consented to alter several sentences, saying, “I wrote more than 4,000 lines of dialogue for ‘Adipurush,’ but some sentiments were hurt by five lines.” It was unclear whether he meant “hurting the sentiments” of people in Nepal or India.
‘Adipurush’ was slammed by reviewers but had a good opening weekend, grossing more than $41 million globally in its first weekend. The film has surpassed ‘Pathaan,’ which was released in January and starred Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh.
The Sanskrit poetry ‘Ramayana’ by legendary bandit-turned-poet Valmiki is hugely popular in India, and it was made into a TV series in the 1980s on the state-run Doordarshan channel. It has also been a source of contention, such as in 2011, when Delhi University was forced to withdraw an essay by scholar AK Ramanujan on the numerous incarnations of the epic due to protests by hardline Hindu groups.
Nepal and Bollywood have also had a tense relationship. Four people were killed in Kathmandu in 2000 following rioting over purported anti-Nepal statements made by Indian star Hrithik Roshan, which he adamantly disputed.