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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 18:01 GMT
Film maker looks to West Bengal

Deepa Mehta and cast Deepe Mehta (centre) has faced problems in Uttar Pradesh


By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

There are growing signs that India's controversial filmmaker, Deepa Mehta, may shoot her film Water in the Marxist-ruled state of West Bengal.

A West Bengal government spokesman told the BBC late on Monday that state chief minister Jyoti Basu had promised to make all necessary arrangements in West Bengal.

He said that Mr Basu had been approached by Shabana Azmi, who has close contact with the left in India.

She said that it was no longer possible to shoot the film in Uttar Pradesh because of a state government ban.

Shiv Sena activists protest against the film
Shooting in Madhya Pradesh had also been ruled out, she said, because the banks of Narmada river do not resemble the Ganges, the river which was central to the film's location.

The spokesman said that Mr Basu promised to provide permission for the shooting and that he would ensure the film crew faced no trouble.

Nationalists condemned

The spokesman said that West Bengal's ruling Left Front has already condemned Hindu nationalist parties for the forcible interruption of the film's shooting at Varanasi.

They did so because they argued that the film's theme constituted an insult to the Hindu faith.

They have said the depiction in the script of Hindu widows was offensive.

Other groups have said the portrayal of widowhood is accurate and powerful.

Security plans

The spokesman did not spell out when the shooting of the film would start in West Bengal - only that whenever Deepa Mehta arrives her with her crew and her cast, they can start shooting.

The spokesman said that Mr Basu's only demand was that Deepa Mehta give his government advance notification of filming so that the authorities could make adequate security arrangements.

A spokesman for West Bengal's ruling Marxists said that if the Hindu nationalists made any attempt to disrupt the film's shooting in West Bengal, they would face attacks from Marxist cadres.

The spokesman said that the left in Bengal believed in the freedom of speech and art, which they allege the Hindu nationalists are trying to stifle.

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See also:
09 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Director fights Indian film ban
07 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Shooting of Indian film banned
03 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Controversial film 'Water' cleared
30 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Plug pulled on sacred city film
19 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Filming India's sex secrets
15 Feb 99 |  South Asia
India approves lesbian film

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