A group of right-wing outfit attacked the sets of Bollywood actor Bobby Deol starrer web-series Ashram 3 for 'tarnishing image of Hinduism', reported multiple Indian publications. The show apparently landed in a controversy on the second day of its shooting after a few protestors from Bajrang Dal vandalised the set and threw ink on its director Prakash Jha in Bhopal.
Bajrang Dal leaders talking to Hindustan Times said they have an objection to its title - Ashram and its content which is an attempt to tarnish the image of Hinduism and its Ashram system.
Replying to a question whether they have gone through the script before raising the objection, Sushil Sudele, state convener of Bajrang Dal, said, "It is already known in public from the last two series of the same drama. We accept that some Ashrams have been indulging in such kinds of activities and their heads are in jail now. If you want to make a film, then give a particular name to that particular Ashram. You cannot tarnish the image of the entire Ashram system, this is our objection."
Bajrang Dal members said if film directors and actors will continuously make such types of films or web series, people will lose faith in the Ashram system. "Title Ashram indicates that it would be a religious drama, but the content is filled with vulgarity, that is why we have asked director Jha to change the name of his web series and he has agreed," the Bajrang Dal leader said.
Bajrang Dal activists ransack ‘Aashram 3’ set, throw ink at director Prakash Jha for defaming Hinduism through series https://t.co/aeYchvKSPi— OpIndia.com (@OpIndia_com) October 25, 2021
Other right-wing members who spoke to IANS also defended Bajrang Dal members' act of vandalising the film's set, saying they (Bajrang Dal members) had gone to the set to meet the director Jha and to request him to change its title. They alleged that the director's bouncers thrashed Bajrang Dal members and then ruckus was created there at the set. During the protest at the set right-wing members shouted slogans against Jha and Deol.
Call for action
The Producers' Guild of India has called for strict action against the perpetrators. The statement read: “The Producers Guild of India strongly condemns the brazen acts of violence, harassment and vandalism faced by the crew involved in the production of the series Ashram in Bhopal.”
Official Statement by Producers Guild Of India pic.twitter.com/xpqUEMcjJ6— Producers Guild of India (@producers_guild) October 25, 2021
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and the Guild is alarmed to note the frequency with which both the production and exhibition sectors are severely and illegally disrupted by various elements with impunity.”
It continued, “Content production contributes significantly to local economies, generates employment and promotes tourism which is why authorities in India and across the world formulate policies to attract producers to their respective regions. However. even more than incentives and benefits. the very minimum that production units should expect is for these authorities to provide the guarantees of safety and security for their units.”
The statement concluded, "We urge the relevant authorities to take immediate and strict action against the perpetrators of these acts of violence and to bring them to justice."
Reacting to the same, filmmaker Hansal Mehta had tweeted on Monday, “No wonder films are shot in the UK and other countries that don’t subject their artistes to such blatant harassment.”
No wonder films are shot in UK and other countries that don’t subject their artistes to such blatant harassment. https://t.co/5AnVEPzRaE— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) October 26, 2021
Reacting to the statement by the film body, he also said, “Dear producers guild, please directly address the relevant authorities and demand action. These statements are pointless.”
Jha and the team are scheduled to shoot the third part of his web series Ashram -3 at different locations in Bhopal and it was the second day of their shoot at old Jail in Arera Hills area on Monday when Bajrang Dal members attacked. They have a long schedule of shooting for two months in Bhopal and some surrounding locations. Two parts of the same web series - Ashram 1 and Ashram 2 have already been released last year.
Ashram web-series, a Hindi crime drama, shows how a police officer investigates a preacher who cons his devoted followers out of money. Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra later also defended Bajrang Dal members saying that Jha should not play with the sentiment of Hindus.
He also said that the state government will make some changes in rules to provide permission for film shooting according to which a director has to ensure that religious sentiments will not be hurt. However, despite all the controversy, the shooting of Ashram 3 continues in Bhopal.
This isn't the first time a Bollywood director has been thrashed by an angry mob. In 2017, Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped and his hair pulled by protesters who accused him of showing a Rajput queen, Rani Padmini, in a negative light of his 2019 film, Padmaavat. Members belonging to Rajput Karni Sena stormed the set of the film at Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur; manhandled the filmmaker and vandalised equipment, NDTV had reported at the time.
In March of the same year, an unidentified group torched and reduced to ashes the massive outdoor film set of Bhansali's controversial project. The riots propelled the director to change the name of the film from Padmavati to Padmaavat.
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