Protests over Tibetan flag deletion In film continue

Friday, 11 November 2011 - 9:27am IST | Place: Mumbai

Tibetans vow to keep the issue of the deletion of a Tibetan flag in a Bollywood film, alive.

Protests following the deletion of a Tibetan flag in the song Sadda Haq on the suggestions of the Censor Board has gained momentum in Tibet.

The red and blue flag featuring a rising sun is a symbol of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule.

A team of angry demonstrators led by Dorjee Tseten, the India director of Students for a Free Tibet, met censor board regional chief Pankaja Thakur in a bid to revoke the decision made by the Board. The Censor Board, according to sources, said it was unable to suggest changes to a film, whose certificate has already been released.

Angry protestors had reportedly gathered recently in Tibet's Norbulingka monastery in McLeod Ganj, a town in the Himalayan foothills which is home to the Tibet government in exile in India and the Dalai Lama. Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali shot the song at the monastery with the flag in the background.  According to the online postings of the Free Tibet Association, Ali was expected to keep the flag prominently featured in the song.

“The Censor Board chief explained to them that all the cuts were made by the director voluntarily,  and he had the option of appealing to a review board which he didn’t do. There were certain discussions between (Imtiaz) Ali and the Board regarding retaining a kiss between two actors (Ranbir and Nargis), but there have been no disagreement regarding deleting the flag from the frames," said an official of the Censor Board.

The Censor Board regional chief Pankaja Thakur also confirmed that there is no option according to the rule-book where a film's certificate can be revoked once it has been issued.

Tibetans across the country have promised not to let the protests die down with the release of the film.

“It is extremely disturbing that such a grotesque violation of free speech is occurring in the world’s largest democracy,” said Dorjee Tseten, the country director of Students for a Free Tibet, in a website post, accusing the Indian government of “caving in” to Chinese pressure instead of protecting the Tibetan’s basic human rights.

Ali refused to take a stand on the matter. "I don't see anything controversial in either the intention or portrayal of the scene," he told a national  news channel,   adding that the song was more about personal freedom rather than any geographical or political issue.  

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