A filmmaker from Guwahati has approached United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) chief Paresh Baruah, seeking militant help to prevent theatre owners in the state from removing his movie in favour of Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil.
Himanghshu Prasad Das made the appeal in an open letter to Baruah on Tuesday, after several theatre owners decided to remove his movie – Shakira Ahibo Bakultolor Bihuloi – on Wednesday.
“Despite my film’s popularity, certain vested interests are actively working towards removing it from movie halls. We demand that the movie be screened as long as it continues to draw a respectable audience,” the National School of Drama graduate wrote to Baruah on his Facebook page.
Terming the move as an assault on Assamese self-respect, Das said removing regional movies from movie halls to accommodate Bollywood blockbusters was an “old problem” that needed to be resolved. The post went viral and, within hours of the filmmaker’s appeal, Baruah called up media houses and warned of violence if the Assamese film was removed. “It is mandatory to screen Assamese films in Assam’s movie halls. Till such a time the audience is willing to watch the movie, it should be screened. We will definitely take action if this is not done, and Hindi movies are forcibly dumped on the audience,” said the militant leader, who is believed to be hiding in Myanmar.
Das’s movie was released in 40 of the 50-plus movie halls in Assam last Friday. However, it was taken off several screens – or reduced to a single show daily – on Wednesday.
However, All Assam Cinema Hall Owners Association secretary Rajeev Bora defended the decision taken in favour of Raees and Kaabil. “Contrary to the filmmaker’s claims, his movie isn’t attracting moviegoers. Why would we remove the movie if it is so popular? We had asked him to postpone his film in view of the two big releases this week, but he didn’t agree,” he said.
Bora, who own Gold Digital chain of multiplexes, is also the distributor for Das’s movie – which was made through crowd funding.
Shakira Ahibo Bakultolor Bihu Loi – which is based on a play – depicts how people are willing to loosen their purse strings for entertainment, but won’t do so for a social cause. It is the story of some youngsters who use the name of popular Colombian singer Shakira to collect funds for rebuilding a flood-damaged embankment. Thrilled at the prospect of an international celebrity coming to their village, people donate willingly. However, it is soon revealed that Shakira – in this instance – is a village woman who lost her mental balance after her son died in the floods.
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