Theatres in Southern India, U.K., Canada, withdraw screenings of Madras Cafe due to protests (w/ gallery)

Indian Tamils and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) supporters carry placards as they shout slogans during a protest against the release of the Bollywood movie ‘Madras Cafe’ outside a movie hall in Mumbai on August 22, 2013. PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

VANCOUVER DESI and IANS

Although cleared to screen in both Hindi and Tamil, theatres across Southern India, the United Kingdom and Canada have withdrawn screenings of the controversial political thriller starring John Abraham, Madras Cafe, because of protests.

The film released worldwide on Friday and according to a release from U.K.-based Sterling Communications – who is representing the movie – the Shoojit Sircar directed film received the green light by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). But due to protests by Tamil groups calling for a ban, single screen and multiplex theatres in London, U.K., Chennai and Canada were forced to withdraw their showings for the safety of cinemagoers.

The point of contention stems from Tamil groups claiming the film portrays the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.

Madras Cafe is set against the Sri Lankan civil war and also depicts the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The film stars John Abraham as an Indian Army Intelligence Agent sent to Sri Lanka to break a resolute rebel group.  It also features Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna, Ajay Rathnam and Leena Maria Paul. The film is a fictional story inspired by true events.

Tamil filmmaker Seeman, head of Naam Tamizhar (We Tamils) group, said the film was “nauseatingly anti-Tamil.” While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit chief, Pon Radhakrishnan, said the movie should not be released in any part of the country.

A senior member of The Theatre Owners’ Association in Chennai told IANS  “the decision to release the film has been given to individual theatres. Since the government has not banned the film, the theatres are free to screen. But if they feel they might face the wrath of protestors, then we can’t do anything.”

And most theatres  fear screening the film could only  make matters worse.

“We fear releasing the film might aggravate the ongoing protests. We don’t want to risk it and, moreover, the decision to screen the film lies with each theatre,” a multiplex representative, on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

However, the film has also been well-received from Bollywood A-listers, film critics, authors and dignitaries.

Actor Abhishek Bachchan tweeted, “Saw Madras CafĂ© Last night. Well done @JohnAbraham @Nargisfakhri and Shoojit, Such a well made film!”

Uday Chopra said: “Saw Madras Cafe, a superb movie! Very intelligently made, taking a historical event and creating a story around it…must watch…well done.”

Dia Mirza said, “Have you seen the latest trailer of (Madras Cafe)? This is it and it’s only the beginning!”

Renowned film critic Taran Adarshsaid in his review of the film said, “Terrific Thriller. Superior quality, Sensible cinema. Try not to miss it!”

Viacom18 Motion Pictures and JA Entertainment also continue to stand by Madras Cafe.

“We have made a realistic film without been frivolous and over sensationalising anything as we believe that the Indian audiences are now looking for credible and realistic cinema,”  the production companies said in a release. “We have told a story, it’s our right of creative expression, we have worked hard to make this film. We only urge people to see the film without being biased and judge it on its merit and not politicize a creative product.”



Picture 1 of 10

In this photograph taken on July 11, 2013, Indian Bollywood actor Nargis Fakhri poses ahead of a screening for the forthcoming political Hindi film Madras Cafe in Mumbai. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

IANS 2013-08-23 19:18:04

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