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Whose right is it anyway?

Y. SUNITA CHOWDHARY

`Sri Ramadasu' is the latest film to face the wrath of animal rights activists



Nagarjuna in `Sri Ramadasu'.

The controversy over the alleged unauthorised use of animals in films has brought to the fore the love-hate relationship between animal rights activists and tinsel town denizens.

The forthcoming film of Konda Krishnam Raju is on hold as the Animal Welfare Board has objected to certain scenes in them. Sources in the film unit say that they were asked not to use a monkey in the film at all even to show it in the positive light. The producer is flabbergasted and wonders how anyone can make a film on Ramadasu without a monkey. According to reliable sources, the GO was released two years back but it was being implemented only from the last two months. Letters were sent to the Producers Council a few days back about the restricted use. According to the laws, the producer has to name the animal and explain the concept and purpose behind its commercial use and inform the Board 30 days ahead of its shooting schedule."

Most filmmakers argued that they were not aware of the law.

While most of the stars are the willing and glamorous advocates for causes espoused by animal lovers, they are increasingly finding themselves in the dock for alleged cruelty to animals.

Meanwhile in Mumbai, many other films are facing trouble from the Board. Most filmmakers there say that all the hungama is being created for free publicity and one should really go into the interiors of the villages to see how animals are being subjected to cruelty whereas the film makers use animals and birds for scenic value. The recent blockbuster Rang De Basanti also faced similar problems. A scene showing Aamir Khan, who played the main lead, riding a horse had to be deleted after the board had objected to it. They even objected to a scene in Souten where a peacock was shown walking in the palace and another scene in Paheli were pigeons were shown fluttering.

The Board for Film Certification, aka the Censor Board, has been pulled up repeatedly by the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting and its ministers for not following the law. The flashpoint came over once, when the film Taj Mahal, which proclaimed, it had used hundreds of elephants, horses and camels and shown them being killed and hurt. Yet, it got it clearance certification from the Censor Board without going to the AWBI (Animal welfare Board of India).

Given the many guidelines, it is incredulous anyone could remain ignorant of the law. However, as animal rights awareness grows, it is discerning audiences who will make the difference.

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