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'Our unit isn't racist'

india Updated: Dec 08, 2006 19:44 IST
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Hollywood actor Brad Pitt denied allegations that three bodyguards of his partner Angelina Jolie had hurled racial abuses at parents and children at an Islamic school in south Mumbai during shooting of a film starring Jolie.

The bodyguards were arrested Friday morning and later released on bail by a Mumbai court after the incident at the Anjuman-E-Islam school on Thursday where the crew for the film "A Mighty Heart" was shooting.

"As a film unit and as individuals we respect all religions and human beings," Pitt, also the producer of the film, told news channel NDTV 24x7. The interview, telecast late Friday, was repeated on Saturday.

Jolie's bodyguards had reportedly tried to prevent students of the school from leaving, according to parents waiting outside the school. The parents alleged that the bodyguards humiliated and abused children and women, and some even passed comments like "You bloody Indian".

The parents demanded an apology from Jolie and lodged a police complaint late Thursday against the guards for alleged manhandling and abuse.

Pitt told the TV channel that the entire incident was a "terribly big misunderstanding" and not what he and Angelina wanted.

"This is not what Angelina and I wanted. This contradicts the message of the film we are trying to make. Angelina and I have a multi-racial family, we want them to respect and understand different religions," he said.

Media reports quoting the actor said that he and Angelina were "absolutely certain that nobody who works with him was capable of religious bias".

"We have an inter-racial family. It is very important to us that our kids grow up understanding their own respective cultures, their own religions, of the country they are from. This is our intention that they get this teaching."

Pitt said that they should have explained their intentions when "we first got here". And they would never ever hire anyone who is racist. "Also, these men are fathers, they all have kids themselves. But they will never hurt a child, they will never harm a child, they will never yell at the child... they will never push the child," he added.

Meanwhile, Jolie too denied that her bodyguards had made any racial comments, and blamed the media of misinterpreting the incident.

"It is not surprising that the press involved failed to mention their share of the responsibility in the chaos. As for the horrible rumour that someone referred to a local as a 'bloody Indian', let me say that I would never like to work with anyone who was derogatory towards another human being. My family is of mixed race," she said in a statement.

The three bodyguards - Thomas Edward MacAdam, Robert Patrick Dunn and Micheal John Bret - are all British nationals. They were produced before a local court and later released on a bail of Rs.25,000 each.

The trio has been asked by the court not to leave India and report daily to the Azad Maidan police station in south Mumbai till Nov 23.

Last month, one of Angelina's bodyguards had assaulted a British photojournalist in Pune.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said that Angelina, who was expected to leave for Pune Saturday to complete her shooting there, has decided to leave India with Pitt and her children.

"We are not in a position to say if Angelina, Brad and the children are leaving for the US," said a spokesperson at the Taj Mahal Hotel in south Mumbai where the Hollywood couple have been staying, when asked about reports of the couple's departure.

In "A Mighty Heart", Angelina plays the part of Mariane, wife of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002 while investigating Islamic militants in the aftermath of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

PHOTOS: Pitt-Jolie in India

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