DHARAMSHALA, November 8: A decision by the Film Certification Board of India to blur out Tibetan national flag and free Tibet banner from the much anticipated Bollywood film ‘Rockstar’ by noted director Imtiaz Ali, known for his hit films like ‘Jab We Met’ (Tibetan dancers’ hip shaking moves to ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ number alongside Kareena Kapoor) has sparked off protests by Tibetan exiles here.
Imtiaz Ali, one of Bollywood’s young successful directors, has been asked by the Censor board of India to either blur out the images or remove them completely from the film that will hit theatres on November 11, 2011.
The India Chapter of the Students for Free Tibet (SFT) Monday staged a protest against the Censor Board of India which it accused of “grotesque violation of free speech”.
“It is extremely disturbing that such a grotesque violation of freedom of speech is happening in the world’s largest democracy,” said Dorjee Tseten, director of SFT, India. “By caving in to Chinese pressure, the Censor Board is allowing China to threaten the freedom and liberties that Indians enjoy.”
However, television promotion of the film and the song “Sadda Haq, ethey rakh” (put here, my right) with the Tibetan national flag not blurred out can still be seen on various television channels.
Dorjee said that it is a matter of speech for the Indians and a matter of survival for the Tibetans. “We won’t let the freedom of speech kowtow to Chinese pressure,” said Dorjee, urging the people of India to join the Tibetans in protecting the freedom of speech and expression.
“Tibetans are dying for freedom. In the last eight months, eleven Tibetans in Tibet have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule,” said Dorjee. “At this critical time – when Tibetans are suffering so desperately under Chinese repression – one would expect India to be promoting and protecting the Tibetan people’s basic human rights, not censuring their struggle in a free country simply because China demands it be done.”
Activists with Students for a Free Tibet are planning rallies and actions in several cities, including Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Calcutta and Dharamsala, to protest the “controversial” decision by Censor Board of India.
Members from the SFT will head for Mumbai to meet CEO of the Censor Board and the filmmaker.
Social networking sites like facebook and twitter are being bombarded with tweets and posts expressing disappointment at the censor board’s decision. “Outraged that our film censors cut a Bollywood movie’s references to Tibet, violates freedom of speech, reduces us to China’s level. Worse, the censors undermined our Government’s standard explanation to Beijing that in our democracy we cannot control/restrict our media,” tweeted Shashi Tharoor, Member of Indian Parliament (LokSabha) and Former Under-Secretary General, United Nations.