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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Lesbian film row 'good for India'
An Indian woman buys tickets at a cinema as she stands beside advertising for one of Bollywood's latest films 'Girlfriend' in Calcutta
The film attracts an audience despite the protests
Karan Razdan, the director of the controversial Hindi film Girlfriend, has said the debate it has provoked is healthy for India.

Mr Razdan told the BBC he did not set out to shock anybody.

Police officers in India have been guarding cinemas across the country after violent protests.

Hindu hardliners are angry at the plot, in which a lesbian character becomes possessive about her partner to the point of psychopathic behaviour.

Mr Razdan admitted he was shaken by the response of the Hindu hardliners to the film on Monday when posters were torn up, and effigies burned.

Leading Hindu nationalist organisations are calling for the film to be banned.

Good audiences

Mr Razdan denied that he had set out to shock people.

"I have just ventured out to find some new kind of drama which has not been existent in the Hindi commercial cinema," he said in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday.

The director said the film had played to good audiences last weekend when it was released, before the protests took place.

Now obviously it's all out in the open, and people are talking about it. I think that is healthy.
Karan Razdan

Describing the film as a "love story with a difference", Mr Razdan said he pleased with the debate it is provoking.

"Now obviously it's all out in the open, and people are talking about it.

"I think that is healthy," he said in the interview.

The writer and director admitted that the film's love-making scene was suggestive.

But he said it was not up to protesters to decide whether a film should be shown in cinemas.

That decision, he said, should be left to India's board of censors.

Mr Razdan said that, given the interest shown in the film, it was likely to be released to cinemas in the United Kingdom and United States, rather than just on DVD.

Karan Razdan, director of Girlfriend
"I ventured out to find a new kind of drama"

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