'Fanaa' ban: Bollywood closes ranks behind Aamir

May 29, 2006 IANS

Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Aamir Khan, whose latest film "Fanaa" has been boycotted in Gujarat following his remarks on the Narmada dam, Monday received support from Bollywood with many film personalities expressing their solidarity with the actor.

Industry honchos, including directors Subhash Ghai, Ramesh Sippy, J.P. Dutta, Pahlaj Nihalani, David Dhavan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Sudhir Mishra, and actors Anupam Kher and Anil Kapoor, came together to protest the virtual ban on the film in Gujarat.

"We understand that the stand he has taken is for a worthy cause and I hope the industry stays together on other issues in the future too," Kher said at a joint press conference here.

Multiplex and cinema owners in Gujarat decided not to screen the film, released elsewhere in the country Friday, following a call from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to boycott the film starring Khan.

The move followed Khan's remarks against the Sardar Sarovar dam project on the Narmada river in the state. While the project is seen as a lifeline for drought-prone parts of the state, Khan had last month voiced his concern for farmers and tribals whose lands would be submerged due to the dam.

Showman Ghai said: "Aamir is paying the price for being a celebrity. He has said nothing different from what the Supreme Court has said (on the rehabilitation of the project-affected people). A film's release has nothing to do with an actor's stand on a social issue."

The Mumbai film industry's stand comes two days after Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan defended Khan.

Bachchan said Saturday that he believed the matter should be solved through the legal process. "According to the constitution of India, freedom of expression and freedom of speech is there. Everybody has the right to do that," Bachchan said.

"Fanaa" producer and noted director Yash Chopra said: "I am facing a loss of Rs.10 million a day because of the ban on 'Fanaa'. I met (Gujarat) Chief Minister Narendra Modi and tried to convince him that it was a question of Aamir's personal views and had nothing to do with my film."

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