Watching 'Fanaa' in Mumbai, facing protest in Gujarat

May 31, 2006 Saeed Khan

Ahmedabad, May 31 (IANS) As Aamir Khan's "Fanaa" is not being screened in Gujarat, five youngsters from Vadodara went all the way to Mumbai to watch the film -- only to face protests on their return.

Clad in T-shirts with "Fanaa" written over them, the five left Saturday night for Mumbai.

"I wanted to see the film for the sake of Kajol who is making a comeback after a couple of years. We decided to go to Mumbai since it was not released here," said Sai Dhenkane, 25, who works in a telecom firm here as the sales manager.

The much-awaited film released elsewhere in India Friday but not in Gujarat as multiplex and cinema owners decided against it following a boycott call given by the youth wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party is angry with Aamir after the actor expressed solidarity with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and spoke for farmers and tribals being displaced by the state's ambitious Sardar Sarovar dam project on the Narmada river.

Khan last week rejected the BJP's demand for an apology.

As the word spread that five fans had come to Mumbai to watch "Fanaa", the film's director Kunal Kohli came to see them at the cinema hall.

"It was nice to see him. He even promised to attend the first show of the film if and when it would be released in Gujarat," Dhenkane told IANS.

"We enjoyed the film," he added, though little did they know about the storm awaiting them on their return Monday.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, staged a demonstration in Vadodara and termed the five as "traitors".

"Anybody from Gujarat who watches Aamir Khan's films is against the interest of the state as the actor has taken a stance against Gujarat," said Kaushal Dave, president of the ABVP's Vadodara unit.

The ABVP held the National Student Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, responsible for the "anti-Gujarat gesture", saying Rutvij Joshi, president of NSUI's Vadodara unit, was among the five who watched the film in Mumbai.

Joshi denied seeing the movie. "I only went to the railway station to see my relatives off. Sai is a very good friend. The NSUI has nothing to do with their visit."

Dhenkane, on the other hand, said: "I don't hold either the Congress or the BJP responsible for the misunderstanding and the protest against us.

"All of my friends are supporting my decision. The boycott of Aamir Khan's films here is nothing more than a political drama. People are not supporting the boycott call.

"Let the film be released and see how many people go to watch it. Everybody I meet these days is asking me only one question: how is the film? They all are eager to see it," he said.

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