Popular actor Vidya Balan has pulled out of a planned biopic on the controversial poetess Kamala Das with the film director saying her exit could be linked to his own troubles with the Hindu brigade.
An iconoclast, Das, who died in 2009, had embraced Islam towards the end of her life and changed her name to Kamala Surayya. Reports in local media say a range of Hindu outfits, including the Shiv Sena, are opposed to Balan donning the role of the controversial figure.
The director Kamaluddin Muhammed, better known as Kamal, told HT that Balan was initially thrilled to essay the role of Kamala, known for her bold writings and utterances. But she changed the shooting schedule of the movie titled Aami twice citing inconveniences.
When contacted, a manager of the actor initially said the dates of the shooting had been only been “slightly pushed” owing to a film strike in Kerala.
But Balan’s official spokesperson later clarified the actor has quit the film as she and the director had “divergent approaches to the process”.
Insisting that Balan respected the director, she has opted out of the film in the most amicable and professional manner. “Any other reason cited is untrue,” the source added.
Kamal, however, hinted that her decision could have something to do with run-ins with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
A national award-winning filmmaker with 48 movies to his credit, Kamal had courted controversy in December when RSS workers accused him of supporting some members of the audience who did not stand up while the national anthem was being played during the International Film Festival of Kerala.
State BJP general secretary AN Radhakrishnan had even urged Kamal to leave the country if he “continued to dishonour the anthem”.
The director said he had no idea whether Balan’s pulling out from his project had anything to do with his tiff with the RSS and the BJP. “I don’t have any proof to buttress this. But if someone clubs these two, they can’t be blamed either,” he said.
He said Balan was a natural choice for the bilingual biopic. The Dirty Picture star has her roots in Kerala, her parents belong to Palakkad.
Follow @htshowbiz for more