Kathmandu Mayor Balendra Shah on June 18 ordered all movie theaters in Nepal’s capital to stop showing all Bollywood movies. The order came three days after Mr Shah gave an ultimatum to the Indian makers of the film Adipurush prompting them to delete a section where a dialogue refers to Sita as the “daughter of India”.
Mr Shah has described the dialogue as misleading as Sita is believed to have been the daughter of King Janak of Janakpur. The Nepal controversy is the latest to hit the film, which has been in the eye of a controversy over controversial dialogues.
“Three days ago we had called the manufacturers Adipurush to remove the objectionable section showing Janaki as Indian. Defending the sovereignty, independence and self-respect of Nepal is the first duty of all governments, non-governmental organizations and citizens of Nepal. No Indian film will be allowed to be screened in the Kathmandu municipal area until this objectionable part is removed from the film,” said Mr. Shah.
Nepal takes pride in its connection with Sita, the female protagonist of the epic Ramayana. Janakpur in Nepal is believed to be Sita’s home where her father, King Janak had his kingdom. Because of her roots, Sita is also known as Janaki, the daughter of Janak. The issue has been added to the list of disputes Nepal has had with India in recent years, starting with the Kalapani territorial dispute that the two sides have yet to resolve. This is the second row to hit bilateral relations since May 28, when the Akhand Bharat mural in India’s new parliament was criticized by Nepalese leaders for depicting Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama the Buddha, as part of the ancient of Indian land.
Controversy over Indian films in Nepal is not new, despite the fact that many top names in Bollywood, such as Manisha Koirala and singer Udit Narayan, have roots in Nepal and are often seen as cultural ambassadors between the two countries. In 2000, riots and protests had erupted in Nepal over reported anti-Nepalese comments by film actor Hrithik Roshan, who was at the height of his popularity at the time. Mr Roshan later denied making those comments. But for a long time Nepal’s ties with Bollywood were strained because of this controversy.
Nepal considers both Lumbini and Janakpur as an integral part of its identity, as the two places are closely associated with the history and myths of the Nepali-Indian culture spanning both Hindu and Buddhist religions.
“Typical alcohol specialist. Music evangelist. Total travel scholar. Internet buff. Passionate entrepreneur.”