Maneka Gandhi fumes at 'Rang De Basanti'

Jan 13, 2006 IANS

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) A day after the Indian Air Force said it had no objections to Bollywood star Aamir Khan's upcoming film "Rang De Basanti" and its depiction of fighter jet crashes, the movie was embroiled in a fresh controversy over its use of animals.

Animal rights activists and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) member Maneka Gandhi Thursday alleged the film's producer had used animals without getting the mandatory permission of the board.

"According to law, no filmmaker can use animals in their films without the permission of the AWBI. But neither the filmmakers nor the censor board bothered to get this clearance," said Gandhi, a member of Lok Sabha.

"Two months back they were sent a notice regarding the issue but they didn't take our permission and got a go-ahead from the censor board," Gandhi told IANS.

"It's only on Dec 25 that they applied for permission, which is really too late to seek permission."

"Rang De Basanti", which features horses in some of its sequences, is slated for release Jan 20.

The film, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and featuring Aamir Khan and Soha Ali Khan in the lead roles, was in the middle of a controversy earlier this week over its depiction of crashes of air force jets. A special viewing was then organised for the top brass of the armed forces and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

AWBI was set up in 1962 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 and acts as a nodal body for animal welfare. Gandhi said the law was simple - one needs to take clearance from the board to get a censor certificate.

When a filmmaker wants to use animals, he needs to apply to the AWBI stating the type of animals. An AWBI inspector then carries out an inspection before giving clearance, she explained.

Gandhi said the AWBI was contemplating to take censor board chief Sharmila Tagore and the makers of "Rang De Basnati" to court.

She also said she had talked to the information and broadcasting ministry about the issue. "When I talked to the ministry, they told me that it was a slip and they would take a look at it."

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