RPI activists mar PIFF inauguration ceremony

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Pune, Jan 10 (UNI) At least 17 activists of 'Lashkar-e-Bhima', a Republican Party of India (RPI) outfit, were rounded up by the police for allegedly disrupting the inauguration ceremony of the week-long 6th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) here today, when chairman of Censor Board Sharmila Tagore got up to receive the 'Lifetime Achievement' award.

Nobody was hurt in the incident.

The activists were protesting against the objectionable portions and references in the film 'Aaja Nachle' and the song 'Hare Rama, Hare Krishna' from the film 'Bhul Bhulaiya'. Incidentally, the objectionable portions and references had been deleted from the two films.

'Aaja Nachle', touted as Madhuri Dixit's comeback film, was banned by the Uttar Pradesh government after its release, alleging that the lyrics of the song in the movie were derogatory to Dalits.

However, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati later lifted the ban after the film's producer Yash Chopra tendered an apology.

Similarly, 'Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' song from Akshay Kumar-starrer 'Bhul Bhulaiya' had become controversial after an advocate filed a petition in the Mumbai Sessions Court, submitting that the song had hurt the sentiments of Hindus and Buddhists because of half-clad girls shown dancing in the song.

Police rounded up at least 17 of the 25 activists. Film personalities Anna Talbach and Dona Modan presented the award to veteran film actress Sharmila Tagore. Sharmila, draped in a pink saree and looking glamorous, chose to ignore the incident in her acceptance speech, saying she felt touched seeing clips of herself dancing.

She said she felt fortunate for being in the acting profession and added she was secretly very happy that two of her children -- Saif and Soha Ali -- chose 'acting' as a career option, despite being kept away from the profession.

The second Lifetime Achievement award was given to veteran actor Shammi Kapoor at the hands of Anton Gogala, Counselor, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia.

Shammi Kapoor, in his acceptance speech, said he had a special affinity for Pune. He said he was honoured and privileged to receive the award. However, he had a dig at the Union Information Minister Priya Ranjan Das Munsi for not showing up.

Earlier, PIFF chairperson Jabbar Patel said the prize money included Rs 35 lakh in various categories in the competitive section, with an addition this year of an award for the best International Student Film Competition including, direction, screenplay and animation among others.

The event began with an invocation to Lord Ganesh followed by a dance medley on songs featuring Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore.

City Mayor Rajyalakshmi Bhosale welcomed the guests.

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