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"He is our enemy, he has no standing here"

Friday 26 May 2006, by NANDI*Palak

The banning of the latest YashRaj production, starring Aamir Khan, in cinemas across Gujarat is the most recent example of art being affected by public protests. Two Gujarati leaders, one in the arts and the other in politics, give their views on the controversy

Narmada is the lifeline of Gujarat and anybody who makes an attempt to oppose it or create a hurdle will be blacklisted in Gujarat. The same goes for Aamir Khan. Despite having no detailed knowledge about the issue, without having bothered to study the matter, Aamir just jumped into it and made public statements.

He even went a step ahead and supported Medha Patkar who, on this day, is Gujarat’s ?enemy no 1’. Anybody extending support to her becomes the enemy of this state - one who talks against development here. And an enemy cannot have any standing in our state.

One cannot let Aamir shoot from his mouth because he is a celebrity. Rather, as a public figure, he should have been careful and studied the matter properly before he interfered.

For us, banning the film is a way of telling the world that we will not let anybody talk or act against the state’s development. Talking against Gujarat has now become the easiest way of grabbing attention and the shortest way to fame. Aamir too did just that. There are hundreds of people who gather at Jantar-Mantar to protest one thing or other. How come Aamir came across nobody but the Narmada Bachao Aandolan members?

Had he taken pains to get our side of the story and tried to understand why the Narmada is so important to us, this situation would not have arisen. In fact, we are ready to take him on a visit of the state and explain to him what the state has done for the rehabilitation of the affected, if he is interested.

If Aamir accepts this as his mistake and makes a public apology, we will withdraw our call for a ban. However, if he continues to stick to his stand, we will have no choice but to ban his movies. We had Rang De Basanti being pulled out of cinema halls after his comments. As soldiers of Gujarat, we will also ensure that even the DVDs and VCDs of his films are not sold or rented at video libraries.

We had issued a warning this would happen more than a month ago. Those who are associated with the film should try and make Aamir understand that it would be better for the whole team that he apologises. If not, the ban stays. Not just for Fanaa but all his movies.

(Amit Thakar is National Secretary, BJP Yuva Morcha)

- As told to Palak Nandi

See online : The Indian Express

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