Oriya film with Maoist theme released amid protests

Oriya film with Maoist theme released amid protests

Bhubaneswar, Aug 12 (IANS) At least 50 activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were arrested here Thursday for disrupting the screening of Oriya film “Swayamsidha”, which has a Maoist theme. However, the film, starring a ruling BJD MP that was released Thursday, ran to full houses in several places.

The screening of “Swayamsidha”, starring Sidhant Mohapatra, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member of the Lok Sabha, was postponed in a few towns, including Berhampur, Jharsuguda and Bolangir, but in other places it ran to full houses.

“The theatres which stopped the screening today will screen the movie tomorrow (Friday) with police protection,” a senior state police official said.

At least 50 activists of the opposition BJP were arrested in the Orissa capital for disrupting the screening, police said.

“The BJP activists were arrested after they tore up posters, prevented viewers from entering the cinema hall and attempted to stop the screening,” Deputy Commissioner of Police H.K. Lal told IANS.

The BJP activists marched on the streets in other areas – protesting release of the film. They alleged it glorifies the Maoist ideology.

“We want a ban on the film as we believe it will encourage anti-national activities,” Bibhuti Jena, president of the BJP’s state youth wing, told reporters.

However, producer of the film, Prabhat Ranjan Mallick, denied the charge and

said the movie was an attempt to bring the Maoists to the mainstream.

Sidhant Mohapatra plays the role of a Maoist leader in the film. Mohapatra has acted in over 100 films, mostly in Oriya. “Swayamsidha” is his first release after entering the Lok Sabha last year.

Another BJD Lok Sabha member, Prasanna Patsani, also features in the movie in a special appearance.

“Mohapatra, in the movie, has gone to the extent of justifying and glorifying Maoism. He has endorsed their activities,” Jena said.

The movie has been shot in the dense forests of Koraput district which is considered a Maoist hotbed.

Jena suspects the Maoists have helped the actors and the producer, a charge they

have denied earlier.

Jena has also sought intervention of the Orissa High court in seeking a ban on the film. The high court Wednesday appointed a five-member committee to attend the premiere of the movie in Cuttack and submit a report on the possible impact it could have on the younger generation.

The committee, comprising senior police officers and lawyers, watched the movie Thursday amid tight security without any trouble.

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