What exactly happened when Katrina Kaif walked into the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s dargah in Ajmer on Tuesday? As far as Katrina — who was dressed in a beige frock that came beneath her knees to shoot a scene for Vipul Shah’s film, Namastey London — knew, it had been a day’s work, well done.
But before she returned to Mumbai on Wednesday, the story about how her dress had offended people at the dargah and how the khadims (caretakers) there were upset was in newspapers.
“My father is a Sunni Muslim and I have been to the Ajmer Sharif twice before, so I’m well aware of the dress code and conduct there,” Katrina said when we called her.
“I would never do anything to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments in any way. I’ve always been careful about that.” Katrina said her previous visits had been personal ones and that she had been dressed in a salwar-kameez on each occasion. “
This time around, it was for a shooting and I was given the outfit for the shot.” The shot also featured Rishi Kapoor and Neena Wadia, who play Katrina’s parents in the film and take her to important religious places of India to familarise their daughter, who has just returned from London, with India’s culture. The family performs a
in the sequence, which took 90 minutes to shoot.
Shah said he had not merely got permission for the shoot but that when the film unit arrived at the dargah, the authorities received them with cordially. “We showed them the outfits that would be worn during the shoot and only after they were approved them, did we give them to the actors. We shot the sequence under supervision, because we didn’t want to do anything wrong and we are sorry if we accidentally hurt religious senti ments.”
The director says that he is “willing to show the scene [shot in the dargah] to the authorities”. “If they feel that we have done something wrong then I’ll delete the scene and re-shoot it.”
Syed Sarwar Chisti, the secretary of Anjuman, the elected body of representatives of khadmis, said: “There was no controversy. The local media has made an unnecessary issue out of it. Nobody paid any attention to what Katrina was wearing.”