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Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 09:54 UK

Row defused over Bollywood film

Amitabh Bachchan apologised at a press conference on 10 September 2008
Amitabh Bachchan said his wife's remarks were made casually

A Hindu hard-line politician in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) says he will not block the release of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's new film.

Mr Raj Thackeray had objected to comments by Mr Bachchan's wife, Jaya, and threatened protests.

After Mr Bachchan offered an apology on his wife's behalf, Mr Thackeray said The Last Lear could now be released.

On Wednesday, the film's producers cancelled a premiere in Mumbai after protests by Mr Thackeray's supporters.

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

He threatened not to allow any film starring any member of the Bachchan family to be released in the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital.

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

The Last Lear is due to open across India on Friday.

'All right'

"In view of the public apology tendered by Mr Bachchan we accept it and withdraw our protest," Mr Thackeray said in Mumbai.

"Though it [the apology] should have come from Jaya Bachchan, it is all right as he [Mr Bachchan] is the head of the family. In future we request her not to make any such comments," he said.

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

On Wednesday, protesters threw stones at the cinema in Mumbai's upmarket Juhu area where the premiere was due to be held.

Hoardings and posters advertising the film were also defaced.

Planman Motion Pictures, which produced the film, cancelled the Mumbai premiere saying "we didn't want to put our guests at risk".

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.

Arrested

Mr Thackeray, who heads the right-wing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, has often accused migrants from other parts of India of flooding 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.

The Bachchans are from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and Amitabh is Bollywood's biggest superstar.

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

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


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