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An Indian film show amid violence fears

India's culture czars are showing a lack of foresight over Nepal, holding a film festival at a time when everyone fears an escalation of violence.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2006 16:23 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

India's culture czars are showing a lack of foresight over Nepal, holding a film festival at a time when everyone fears an escalation of violence.

The Indian embassy here, along with the BP Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, is organising an "Indian Film Festival" in six Nepali cities. It is to be held in the first three months of 2006.

The Maoists have just ended a unilateral truce and given a call for resumption of armed struggle against the government, which has decided to go ahead with civic elections Feb 8 despite a rebel threat to oppose the polls.

Dharan town in southeastern Nepal will be the first venue for the Indian festival starting Jan 7, less than a week after the end of the Maoists ceasefire Jan 2.

After travelling to Janakpur, Birgunj, Pokhara and Nepalgunj, the finale will be in Kathmandu March 3-5.

The Maoists have called a nationwide shutdown Feb 5 to 12 and have warned of "action" against candidates and officials. Feb 13 will mark the 10th anniversary of the "People's War", launched in 1996 to abolish monarchy and establish a secular republic.

Nepal's major opposition parties that won over 90 percent seats in the last general election but have boycotted all elections called by the king are also protesting against the Feb 8 ballot.

It is feared that the government might put curbs on the protestors, creating more unrest. Post-poll unrest is not ruled out.

Although described as an "Indian Film Festival", only Hindi films have been chosen, ignoring other regional language films. The exclusion of movies from West Bengal, southern India and Sikkim is surprising.

West Bengal has close ties with Nepal's film industry, with directors, music directors and technicians from Kolkata and Darjeeling playing an important role in its inception.

Kolkata, besides New Delhi, is the only Indian metro to have a Nepali consulate and a large percentage of Nepalis have either worked or studied in West Bengal.

Sikkim directors too are a link between the film industries of the two countries and a Nepali film from India would have been appropriate for an Indian film festival in Nepal.

Moreover, the six films to be exhibited ignore the current trendsetters. Mughal-e-Azam, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Pyasa, Bobby,Hip Hip Hurrah and Garam Hawa cover the period from 1957 to 1984.

Mughal-e-Azam also had a commercial run in Kathmandu last year.

Other countries were more prompt to take advantage of the uneasy peace prevailing in patches in 2005 and hold festivals of their own films. There have been Chinese, British, French, Russian, Australian and Spanish film festivals.

It took New Delhi, just an hour's flight away, another year to put its cultural act together. Even then, it is flawed.

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 16:23 IST