Film Director Accuses India Gov't
RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM
Dec. 04, 1998
BOMBAY, India (AP) _ The director of a film that features a lesbian kiss and has sparked protests in India criticized demonstrators on Friday and accused local government officials of complicity in the uproar.
Right-wing activists in Bombay, New Delhi, and other cities have stormed into theaters this week to try to stop showings of ``Fire,'' saying its sexual content was an affront to Hindu values.
``We have condemned the methods used by the miscreants and the overt support they received from the state government. These attacks must be stopped,'' director Mahesh Bhatt said.
A group of prominent theater and movie figures, including Bhatt, signed a petition Friday and sent it to the Supreme Court chief justice protesting the campaign against ``Fire.''
The Indian Censor Board is known for a heavy hand, but allowed ``Fire'' to be shown with no cuts. In addition to the women kissing, the film has a brief nude scene.
The movie had run to packed houses for three weeks in Indian cities, causing little more than raised eyebrows and a smattering of protests. But the protests by the rightist Shiv Sena party have caused all shows of the movie to be suspended in Bombay.
The film is about two women who have a lesbian relationship because of their unhappy marriages to two brothers. Homosexuality and the unhappiness of women in traditional families are rarely discussed in India.