Wednesday, February 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Water’ crew leaves Varanasi
Bandh disrupts life in city

VARANASI, Feb 8 (PTI) — A day after the UP Government banned the shooting of her controversial film ‘Water’ for a fortnight, a “heart-broken” Deepa Mehta and her lead actresses left the pilgrim city for Delhi, amid a bandh and demonstrations against her.

A visibly-upset Mehta, along with her lead actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, left at 4.30 pm, bringing the curtains down on a 10-day-long drama which began when activists of Sangh Parivar outfits damaged the film sets at Tulsi Ghat.

Earlier, the trio was escorted to Babatpur airport by armed security personnel as around 100 activists of the Kashi Sanskriti Raksha Sangarsh Samiti (KSRSS) defied prohibitory orders and held a demonstration near their hotel demanding that Mehta leave the city immediately.

Before their departure, Ms Shabana Azmi, who is also Rajya Sabha member, told reporters at the hotel, “What has happened is a loss for the people of Varanasi more than anyone less. A handful of people have started speaking on their behalf.”

“We have the highest regard for the people of Varanasi whose culture is tolerant,” she said questioning what Sangh Parivar outfits, who opposed the film’s shooting, had done for the city.

Shops and other business establishments in several parts of the city remained closed in response to a bandh call given by the KSRSS demanding that Mehta and her film unit leave the city.

The district administration had ordered the closure of educational institutions in the district as a precautionary measure. Government offices, however, remained open.

Reports of road blocks, stone-pelting, effigy-burning and demonstrations poured in from different parts of the city throughout the day.

Regretting the ban on the shooting, the All India Students Association (AISA), in a statement, said the entire episode “exposed the fascist face of the BJP and the RSS.”

Shabana Azmi alleged that the district administration was helpless as state government had given it “specific instructions” right from the beginning not to allow the shooting.

The film’s script writer Anurag Kashyap told PTI that the entire film team would leave the city by tomorrow morning while some of the foreign crew members would go to Kathmandu for a holiday.

Film unit spokesman Iqbal Kidwai discounted the possibility of an early return of the crew to the city.

The unit has suffered a loss of over Rs 3 crore following cancellation of the shooting, he said.



Nandita’s house burgled

NEW DELHI, Feb 8 (UNI) — Burglars broke into the residence of film actress Nandita Das while she was away in Varanasi shooting for the controversial film “Water” and decamped with some electronic goods and jewellery.

Ms Nandita, who lives in an annexe at Green Park in South Delhi, arrived here today from Varanasi after the shooting of the film was stopped by the Uttar Pradesh Government. She confirmed that thieves had broken into her apartment and said she had lodged an FIR but did not give details.

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