Nepal's Kathmandu, Pokhara ban Indian films over Adipurush dialogue row

Kathmandu's mayor says “if the film is shown as it is”, it could severely damage “Nepal’s nationality, cultural unity, and national identity”


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Published: Mon 19 Jun 2023, 1:53 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Jun 2023, 2:02 PM

Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and tourism hotspot Pokhara have banned the screening of all Indian films amid a controversy over dialogues in the recently released Bollywood movie, Adipurush, which is based on the epic Ramayana. Kathmandu mayor Balendra Shah has strongly objected to a section of the dialogue that mentioned Janaki as "India's daughter", termed it "cultural encroachment", and said that such films could damage national interest.

The Kathmandu mayor said no Hindi film will be allowed to run in Kathmandu Metropolitan City until the dialogue "Janaki is a daughter of India" was removed not just in Nepal but also in India, according to an NDTV report. Sita, also referred to as Janaki, is believed by many to have been born in Janakpur in southeast Nepal, it added.

In a Facebook post shared on June 18, the Kathmandu Mayor said that "it was “the first duty of every government, government agency, non-governmental sector and Nepali citizen to protect the national interest by keeping Nepal’s freedom, independence and self-respect intact”.

Shah also stated that “if the film is shown as it is”, it could severely damage “Nepal’s nationality, cultural unity, and national identity”. “Due to cultural encroachment on Nepal from that movie, this metropolitan city has attracted serious attention,” the post read. The mayor added that the screening of Adipurush in other parts of the country or abroad will “establish a misleading fact”.

In the wake of the controversy, T-Series, which has co-produced Adipurush, has written to Shah, urging him to view the film in its “artistic form”, reported news agency ANI. “We request you to view the film in its artistic form and support the intention of reaching out to a larger audience to create interest in our history,” the statement read.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Police Chief Raju Pandey said that police inspected the cinema halls in the city on Sunday following the ban on screening of Indian films. He said they are now monitoring all theatres in Kathmandu, reported news agency PTI.

According to a security guard at Q’s Cinema in Kathmandu’s Rising Mall, Adipurush was screened just once at the theatre on Friday evening, the report added.

Soon after Kathmandu imposed a ban on the screening of Indian films, Pokhara Metropolitan City announced a similar move. Pokhara Mayor Dhanraj Acharya directed three movie theatres in the city to stop the screening of all Indian movies, reported ANI.

Indian filmmaker Om Raut’s Adipurush hit the screens on Friday, Southern superstar Prabhas and Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon play lead roles in the much-talked-about movie. It also stars Saif Ali Khan as Lankesh, Sunny Singh as Lakshmana and Devdatta Nage as Lord Hanuman.

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