Fire Over 'Water'

Many Hindus object to the way the film 'Water' portrays India's most sacred city. One BJP leader explains why

The Uttar Pradesh government shut down the filming of Deepa Mehta's latest film, 'Water,' after protesters turned violent on February 6, tearing down portions of the movie set as it was being filmed in Varanasi. In an interview, the BJP's Shyamdeo Ramchaudhary explains why Hindus might find the movie's depiction of Varanasi--also called Kashi--offensive.

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When irate mobs decided to take the law, and Water's film-sets, into their own hands, leading the brigade was the BJP legislator Shyamdeo Ramchaudhary. Never mind that the government headed by his party had cleared the script, never mind the impact such 'spontaneous' protests will have on the image of the nation. Ramchaudhary's demand, made clear to Suparn Verma, is: Make the script public if you have nothing to hide.

REDIFF: What is your objection to Water being shot in Varanasi?

RAMCHAUDHARY: A lot is being said about the film, whose script is under dispute. I want to say this, that there are certain norms and cultural ways of Kashi and they must be shot, we have no objections to them being shot either. When the complete image is being portrayed, we have no problem. But when you narrow your view down to some issues that may have existed years ago, issues which were stray [incidents], it is not a good thing to show them.


From what we have heard and what we have been told, the script has not been disclosed to everyone. Maybe because the people will have objections to it. Hence the entire populace here is of one mind, that in Kashi there may have been some incidents long ago, but today Kashi is known everywhere as a holy land, Gautama Buddha gave his first discourse here, this is the workplace of Saint Tulsidas, Saint Kabir, it's famous for Benarasi saris, it is famous for the Ganges, the ghats. It is a historical place. It is not known as a place where child widows used to come and live in ashrams, where they would sell their bodies or would be forced to sell their bodies. We have never heard of it, it is not even documented in the history of Kashi, so how can you tarnish the image of a city without reason?

There may have been stray incidents but that is not part of our culture or something that is a practice here. I protest against the picturisation of Varanasi the way it being picturised in the film, it is an insult and shows utter disregard of our tradition and we will never tolerate it. No one can come to Kashi and insult our sensibilities by shooting negative stories, show them to the West and portray the wrong signals.

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