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India puts Da Vinci Code film on hold

Taking a cautious approach, the government has decided not to give clearance to the screening of the controversial film.

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NEW DELHI: Taking a cautious approach, the government has decided not to give clearance to the screening of the controversial film, the Da Vinci Code, till the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Catholic Church are satisfied the film will not hurt the sensitivity of Christians in the country.
 
Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters here on Tuesday that he along with members of the Catholic Church, and officials of the I&B ministry and Censor Board would view the movie in camera and only then a decision would be taken about its screening.
 
''Some elements are trying to create mischief and instability in the country by using the film, so we are extra cautious. Unless the minister as part of the government and censor board are satisfied no screening of the film would be allowed by anyone,'' the minister said.
 
Earlier, the Sony Television had decided to screen the film and some officials of the I&B minister and members of the Christian community had watched the movie and felt that there was nothing objectionable in the film.
 
However, the government wants to first establish a mechanism to get the representatives of the Catholic Church of the country satisfied, and only then it would allowed to be exhibited.
 
About 290 organisations, mostly representing the Church, had approached the minister, urging him to first view the film himself and only after being satisfied allow its screening.
 
''Since these organisations had sent a memo to the government, it is my duty to crosscheck the facts before allowing the screening,'' the minister said. Since the film is due to be released in India on Friday, a decision will be taken soon.
 
Denying that attempt is being made to placate the minority community, Dasmunsi said that when the government viewed Rang De Basanti five times before deciding to allow its screening, what was wrong in adopting a cautious approach now.
 
He cited the example of Anand Patwardhan's award winning documentary War and Peace, which was cleared only after he viewed it and directed Doordarshan to screen it.
 
Dasmunsi alleged that "many forces were at play to create confusion and instability in the country" in the name of the movie.
    
However, he made it clear that unless Censor Board convinced him, the film will not be released in theatres.
    
"I want to see the film with representatives of the community to see the possible areas where objections are being raised," he said.
 
Asked it he was not creating a bad precedent by watching the movie before it got clearance, the minister said, "I am not creating any bad precedents, but want to see whether the appeal made by the community holds merit.
 
"If such a large number of organisations have submitted a memorandum to me to first watch the movie before allowing it to be screened, then is it not my responsibility to do so," he argued.
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