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Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 15:45 UK

Bollywood film premiere cancelled

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan in The Last Lear (Courtesy: Planman Pictures)
Mr Bachchan is India's biggest superstar

A star-studded premiere for Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's new film has been cancelled because of security fears for guests, organisers say.

The premiere of The Last Lear was due to be held in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) on Wednesday.

The show was called off after a Hindu hardline politician objected to some comments by Mr Bachchan's wife, Jaya.

Mr Raj Thackeray accused Mrs Bachchan of making comments which promoted Hindi over the local Marathi language.

The Bachchan couple has denied the charge and Mr Bachchan has offered an apology.

Mr Thackeray has threatened not to allow any film starring any member of the Bachchan family from being released in the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital.

'Open as planned'

"We have just called off the premiere because there has been some incidents that happened at the (film theatre) where it was to have been held," the AFP news agency quoted Shubho Shekhar Bhattacharjee, head of Planman Motion Pictures which produced the film, as saying.

"We didn't want to put our guests at risk," he said.

Mr Bhattacharjee said the film would open as planned on Friday.

A defaced poster of The Last Lear
Mr Bachchan says his wife's remarks were made casually

He said they would go ahead with premieres in Delhi and Calcutta on Thursday and Friday as planned.

Earlier on Wednesday, protesters threw stones at the cinema in the upscale Juhu area where the premiere was due to be held.

Hoardings and posters advertising the film were also defaced.

Mr Bachchan said his wife's remarks were made casually and without any malice.

Writing on his website, he said that neither he nor his family would ever insult Marathi speakers.

"If inadvertently this is what has been construed, then we apologise and are sorry and seek forgiveness for any sentiments that have been hurt," he said.

Mrs Bachchan made a similar apology in a newspaper on Tuesday, but Mr Thackeray has rejected it.

Arrested

Mr Thackeray, who heads the right wing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, has often accused migrants from other parts of India of swamping Maharashtra, India's most industrialised state, in search of jobs.

In February, he was arrested on charges of stoking communal tension after activists from his party attacked migrant workers from northern India.

At that time, the Bachchans who are from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, were targeted by Mr Thackeray's supporters.

Mr Bachchan is Bollywood's biggest superstar who topped a 1999 BBC News website poll to find the greatest star of the millennium, beating the likes of Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin.

In a career spanning almost 40 years, he has acted in more than 140 movies.

His son, Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, are also well-known Bollywood actors.


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