Indian cinema halls decide not to screen Jo Bole So Nihal

Agence France Presse

New Delhi, May 24:

Cinema halls across India dropped screenings of a Bollywood film considered offensive by some Sikh groups after two bomb attacks in theatres showing it killed one person and injured 49. Authorities in Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh states asked cinema owners to stop screenings of the Hindi-language film Jo Bole So Nihal, the Press Trust of India news agency said. The precautions follow the bombing of two cinemas last evening which went off 15 minutes apart in the Karol Bagh neighbourhood of New Delhi, where the Bollywood action thriller was showing for the first time at the weekend.

Some Sikh groups argue the film belittles their religion, because it’s title Jo Bole So Nihal, which means “blessed is the one”, is part of a Sikh religious chant used in battle and prayer.

They are also offended by scenes in the movie showing the central character, a Sikh policeman called Nihal Singh, being chased by scantilly-clad women. Security forces were on high alert after the blasts, for which no group has claimed responsibility.

Bollywood, meanwhile, rallied behind the film. “We have sought a meeting with the prime minister for his intervention in the controversy,” Pahlaj Nihalani, president of India’s Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers, said in Mumbai. The film’s director Rahul Rawail also defended the picture. “My film is not hurting religious sentiments of the Sikhs as I am myself a Sikh and can’t imagine doing anything that would hurt my religious beliefs,” Rawail said. “The film has also passed the censor board and they are people who understand cinema. They had no problems with the film.” In Mumbai, which is home to Bollywood, seven theatres stopped showing the film, and police bolstered security in other cinemas where it was being screened. The bomb attacks have raised security fears in New Delhi, which in 1984 witnessed riots that left 3,000 dead after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards. The Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the highest Sikh decision-making body, had demanded a ban on Jo Bole So Nihal, which was shot in India and the US. The film was withdrawn from all theatres in Sikh-dominated Punjab state last week.

Terrorists behind blasts: Pranab

NEW DELHI: India’s defence minister said weekend cinema blasts in New Delhi were the

“handiwork of terrorists” as police moved away on Tuesday from initial theories that the bombs were planted by angry Sikhs. “It appears to be the handiwork of terrorists. But details will emerge only after the investigations,” Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned of stern action against “terrorists”. Police stood guard outside cinemas and said they would continue to provide security for the film’s action hero, Sunny Deol and director Rahul Rawail. — AFP