NEW DELHI: Right-wing Hindu activists on Friday disrupted shooting for Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s movie on the hunt for al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, protesting at the use of Indian locations to portray Pakistan.
Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) stormed the set in Chandigarh – the northern Indian city famously designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier – where Bigelow’s crew had been shooting for four days.
The location was a Chandigarh market, which the production company had transformed with shop-board signs in Urdu, auto rickshaws with Abbottabad number plates and burqa-clad extras.
“They removed signs that had been put up in Urdu and also pushed and abused the camera crew. They raised slogans against Pakistan and forcibly removed some Pakistani flags,” a local police officer told AFP by telephone.
“We don’t want Pakistani flags on Indian soil and we don’t agree that Indian markets should look like Pakistan,” said Punjab VHP Secretary Ramkrishna Srivastava.
Under the working title ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Bigelow’s latest film recounts the hunt for Bin Laden, which ended when US special forces raided his hideout in Abbottabad last May, killing the al Qaeda leader.
With filming in Pakistan not an option, there has been intense media speculation about what locations might be chosen by Bigelow, who won the 2010 Oscar for Best Director for ‘The Hurt Locker’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.