Thursday, February 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NCW invites ‘Water’ makers for talks
From Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 9 — The National Commission for Women (NCW) has invited filmmaker Deepa Mehta and lead actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das to participate in deliberations with women organisations on the fate of the film ‘Water’.

Confirming the meeting, sources in the NCW said apart from the Chairperson and members in the Commission, representatives from about 25 women organisations will have wide-ranging discussions on the film. Prominent women organistions expected to participate in the meeting on Thursday are the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, the National Federation of Indian Women, the Joint Women’s Group, the Mahilla Dakshata Samiti, the Young Women’s Christian Association, Jagran, Nirantar and Kali for Women.

Ms Deepa Mehta, director of Water, today said she would meet the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley on Thursday to discuss the future of the film which had been given a final nod by the Centre.

“We have already got the support of the Central Government. Mr Jaitley comes back from London tonight. I will meet him tomorrow,” she said.

Asked what assurance she was expecting from the I and B Minister, Ms Mehta said she trusted him. Replying to a question, she said, “I would not like to go to Kashi again, not in the near future. I tried my best to shoot in Varanasi. I’m a victim.”

Ms Mehta said she is yet to start scouting for other venues. “I will have a meeting with my producers. It hurts me deeply to say that I don’t think I will shoot a film in Varanasi not because I don’t want to but because they will not let me do so.”

Asked whether she planed to shoot the film in Madhya Pradesh, Ms Mehta said, “It is a significant gesture by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister but the film is not like a laptop or a piece of paper which can be moved from one place to another. I don’t know what my future plans are. Without wanting to sound absurd, its important for me to make my film.”

Ms Mehta said she would never alter her script. “I deleted five words that the people of Kashi were using to put me down. This was a gesture to the people of Kashi. It is not a compromise. There was nothing objectionable about the words. If they were actually inflammatory, the Ministry would not have approved them.’’

She asserted that her script was honest and inoffensive. Replying to a question on the controversial nature of her films, the director said, “I don’t court controversy. It has not helped me in the past. I don’t want notoriety.”

Ms Mehta said although the Tourism Minister of UP extended all support to them, a person who evinced interest in the distribution rights of the film threatened to create trouble. “I told him that it was not possible for me to commit as it is not my money. He took great offence and said that he will see how the film is shot in Varanasi.”

Ms Mehta said that she felt like a ping-pong ball between the Central Government and the district administration. “I am not a politician. From the beginning, the Chief Minster of Uttar Pradesh was vacillating between saying Yes and No.

She said although production had suffered a setback of about $ 6,50,000, the producer was with the unit.

Ms Nandita Das said it was going to be slightly traumatic to go back to another place for shooting the film. “It really makes me feel sad. People are questioning the script when the film is not even ready. I wish I could read out the script to everybody.”

BHOPAL (UNI, PTI): Noted film director Deepa Mehta will shoot her controversial film “Water” at the religious site of Maheshwar on the bank of holy Narmada.

Deepa Mehta had a telephonic talk with Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and planned to set-up the locale of the film in the state, official sources said here today.

She, along with the unit of the film, would arrive in the state capital tomorrow.

According to a report from Khargone, District Collector Bhupal Singh said every possible security arrangements would be made at the site to ensure safe and peaceful shooting of the film.

Mr Bhupal Singh is learnt to have not only given the permission to shoot the film but has also assured full security to the unit, sources said.

Opposition BJP members in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly said filmmaker Deepa Mehta should not be given permission to shoot the film the on banks of the Narmada in the state.

Reacting to Chief Minister Digvijay Singh offer to Deepa Mehta to shoot her film in Madhya Pradesh, BJP members Gopal Bhargava and Sunil Nayak said that by doing so, the Chief Minister had hurt sentiments of people of the state.

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