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Sunday, 30 January, 2000, 19:12 GMT
Plug pulled on sacred city film

Varanasi: BJP fears for city's spiritual reputation


By Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow

The authorities in Uttar Pradesh have stopped the shooting of a film in the sacred Indian city of Varanasi.

Local leaders of the governing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have strongly objected to the shooting of Water in Varanasi, saying it depicts Hindu widows in Varanasi being compelled to turn to prostitution.

DEEPA Deepa Mehta: Rejected criticism
They say this will tarnish the reputation of the city, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, as a place of learning and spiritualism.

The decision to halt filming was reportedly made by state chief minister, Ram Prakash Gupta, after a report from the Varanasi district magistrate.

Police say that some members of the BJP held demonstrations in Varanasi against the shooting, which was due to begin on Sunday.

Film director Deepa Mehta has been saying that her Canadian-produced film does not depict either India or Indian womanhood in a bad light.

She declined to give details of the film's script, but said it portrayed a woman's yearning for a better life.

Ms Mehta is known for a previous controversial film Fire, about a lesbian relationship.

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See also:
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Filming India's sex secrets
15 Feb 99 |  South Asia
India approves lesbian film
14 Dec 98 |  South Asia
Indian film ignites political controversy
13 Nov 98 |  South Asia
Lesbian film sets India on Fire

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