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Rejected by royals, applauded here

india Updated: Mar 10, 2008 03:00 IST
Naomi Canton

A film which sparked such protests in the UK that it had to be withdrawn from a royal charity gala screening has been shown for the first time in India at the MAMI festival.

Brick Lane, the adaptation of the Monica Ali bestseller, was screened to a packed house on Saturday, as part of the festival’s Film India Worldwide section.

Traders in London’s Brick Lane, famed for its Bangladeshi restaurants, had forced the producers to shoot the film elsewhere after a fierce campaign saying it portrayed Bangladeshis as backward. Last October, the film was pulled from premiering at the Royal Film Performance because the royal family was worried about the controversy and the event, which normally raises millions of rupees for people working in the film industry, was cancelled.

The movie revolves around Nazneen, a Bangladeshi villager who moves to East London for an arranged marriage and ends up having an affair with a market trader.

Lead actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, a Bengali who lives in Mumbai, told HT after the screening, that the film does not have clichés. “I met a lot of women in and around Brick Lane with similar stories to tell,” she said. “But this film was not about an Asian woman battered by her husband, but about a woman who finds her own solutions in life.”

Chatterjee (29) said it was universal story about displacement and a woman finding a voice. “I think the message of the film was to show that in any journey, when you take a big decision, there is a sense of liberation as well as of loss.”

Chatterjee said she was “overwhelmed” by the response at MAMI. “I have been surprised that despite being in a secluded location, this year’s MAMI festival has been running packed shows. It shows there is an interest in India from all quarters.”