Actress Angelina Jolie will not forget her India odyssey in a hurry — for an assortment of reasons. Scuffles between her bodyguards and the media, rumours about adopting an Indian baby and most of all for portraying the trauma of a woman losing a loved one to the orgy of terror — wracking the globe.
But Thursday was just not her lucky day. In a repeat performance, her bodyguards allegedly manhandled students and parents at South Mumbai’s Anjuman E-Islam School, where she was shooting for A Mighty Heart.
Her securitymen hurled racist abuses at students and parents, who found the gates locked after school. The students were confined to their classrooms throughout the afternoon. “They are human, not animals. How can you lock them inside classrooms?” railed Sajid Ahmed, a parent. Ahmed and a few angry fathers tried to barge inside the school around 3 pm, but the bodyguards threw them out.
A student and two photographers from the magazine Malayalam Manorma were also “pushed away” by Jolie’s bodyguards. They filed a complaint with the police against the school management and an unnamed bodyguard. They said the police were initially reluctant to register the complaint, but later relented. “They called us bloody Indians and pushed us,” cried an agitated Ayesha Khan, whose daughter is a student of Class III. Khan, along with other parents, came to collect their wards around noon.
Seeing Jolie shoot, she tried to push through the milling crowd to catch a glimpse of the actress when her bodyguards charged.
The unit was using the 116-year-old school as a makeshift Pakistani police station for a shot involving Mariane Pearl (played by Jolie). Jolie plays the wife an American journalist Daniel pearl, kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.
“The guards were carrying guns and our children were scared,” said Parent-Teacher Association member Shama Parveen. “The school management should have informed us.” The parents were angry because they were not forewarned. The school authority, however, brushed off the incident as “bad timing”. “These things do happen.
The parents have their own grievances and the producers have their own version. I was not around. Who knows what exactly happened?” said advocate Vanoo, a member of the school management.
“We have let out the premises for shooting before, but there has never been a problem. Maybe, we won’t next time,” a school director said. The school was paid Rs 35,000 for the shoot.