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Bollywood's Bachchan blasts caste film ban

14 august 2011, 16:13
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Indian Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan poses during a ceremony for the forthcoming Hindi film “Rascals” in Mumbai. ©AFP
Indian Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan poses during a ceremony for the forthcoming Hindi film “Rascals” in Mumbai. ©AFP
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Friday blasted a decision by three state governments to ban the release of his new film, which tackles the controversial issue of caste quotas, AFP reports.

The 68-year-old actor wrote on his blog that he was "saddened" lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh had given in to "unsubstantiated rumour and belief, without as much as any verification of its validity".

All three states have stopped the planned release of director Prakash Jha's drama, Aarakshan, on Friday, citing concerns for law and order.

The bans came after politicians and groups representing low-caste Hindus and other minorities criticised the film.

Widespread protests, including the vandalism of publicity material outside Mumbai cinemas, have led to beefed-up security outside some theatres in the Indian Bollywood capital.

India's constitution provides for the reservation of a certain number of jobs in the public sector and places in the education system for groups officially known as "scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes".

Critics allege that the film is against the reservation policy and against low-caste Hindus formerly known as "untouchables".

The policy of positive discrimination is controversial. Qualified candidates who are unable to get jobs say it is unfair and does not reward merit, while supporters say it helps counter economic disparities and discrimination.

Bachchan, who plays the principal of a successful school who has quotas imposed on him, said the bans made no sense and rode roughshod over the decision of the country's Censor Board, which passed the film uncut.

"I do not care if this film does well or not but I shall admit this... this film has shown a mirror to the country and to one of its conditions," he wrote on bigb.bigadda.com.

Jha has said the film takes no position on the reservation system and accused lawmakers of playing religious politics to win votes.

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