Madhuri Dixit might no longer set the silver screen afire, but she seems to have lit a naming controversy in India's land of the rising sun— Arunachal Pradesh.
Traditionalists among the local Monpa community have engaged in a cold war of sorts with the Army for “renaming” the mid-sized, often snow-covered Sangetsar Lake after the dhak dhak girl.
The lake is situated near the Indo-China border at 14,000 ft, about 42 km from Tawang.
Most lakes in Tawang district-Banggachang Lake for instance-are sacred for the Buddhists who dominate the area.
Sangetsar, formed by a landscape-reshaping earthquake in 1950, has no religious connection, but stumps of dead trees sticking out of its surface has over the years made it a prime tourist spot.
The serenity around this lake was disturbed after Rakesh Roshan used it as one of the backdrops for his film Koyla a decade ago.
The producers sought the help of soldiers to shoot the film on the harsh, icy terrain. The troops subsequently began referring to the lake as 'Madhuri'.
“The name has stuck like a virus and our youngsters, infatuated as they are with Hindi films, have been infected so much that the original name of the lake is at stake,” says a senior district official.
Agrees Khiren Rijiju, MP from Arunachal West. “There are people trying to capitalize on Madhuri Dixit in the name of tourism, but it is better to have less tourists than tamper with the identity of a local landmark.
Besides, there are other, more attractive, spiritually and historically lakes in the area, that need marketing,” he said.
Army officials deny they have been tampering with local names. “If the people associate an actress with the lake, we cannot help it. The Army believes in protecting the heritage of any place. You can never replace the original; besides, Sangetsar is a sweeter name than Madhuri for a lake,” says Colonel Narendra Singh, spokesperson of the Army's 4th Corps that guards the frontier.