Beeb: Bangalore Bigots Ban Bollywood Blockbusters

VZbanned.jpgIn glossy, hi-tech Bangalore, India’s virtual bridge to the west, decidedly parochial sentiments are aflame. Kannada groups, concerned about the influx of Tamilians, are taking a hard line stand against films made in outsider languages. This includes movies in English or Hindi, India’s two official languages. As a result, Veer-Zara, Bollywood’s current megahit, cannot be shown.

Policemen are frisking ticket holders at the gates as a security measure in the wake of threats to disrupt the first screenings of the film in the city. The film has been screened in defiance of an unofficial moratorium … on new films not made in Kannada, the language of Karnataka state. Police are taking no chances as the threat is real. [BBC]

This is pretty serious business for Karnataka nationalists since Tamils already form over 30% of Bangalore’s population. Symbolic battles like this one have been going on for quite some time — the statue of Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar in central Banagalore has been covered in sackcloth for over a decade. Nor have all the battles been symbolic. In 1991, “Anti-Tamil riots in Bangalore in 1991 over the dispute of sharing Cauvery river water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu left 20 dead.”

The central government has gotten involved, but as of yet, has not enforced its writ effectively. I wonder if Manmohan Singh is afraid of stirring up further trouble and scaring away further investment in India. I doubt that foreign companies would make much of a distinction between Bangalore and Bonbay (also a site of ethnic violence) and Delhi (the same). Dharam Singh, the Chief Minister of Karnataka says that he does not support the ban, and that he is trying to resolve the situation through negotiations. Clearly local cinemas are not a powerful enough special interest, they’re losing alot of money as a result of this ban:

The Supreme Court in Delhi has ordered that the ban be lifted. But cinemas across Bangalore fear adverse consequences if they do not toe the pro-Kannada line. Only three of the 108 theatres in Bangalore have dared to screen Veer-Zaara – and they have had police protection. Police Commissioner S Mariswamy says protection will be given to all cinemas screening new non-Kannada films. But the owners are sceptical. “There is an atmosphere of fear,” says RP Odugoudar, chairman of the Karnataka Film Exhibitors Federation. The loss estimated to the film industry because of the ban since it was effected in August is said to be nearly $20m.
All quotes taken from the Beeb: Bollywood ban in language fight [Yes, the author really did write short one-sentence paragraphs] Previous posts on Veer-Zara: “Veer-Zaara” Storms U.S. With Impressive Opening Weekend ImaginAsian showing Bollyflicks

17 thoughts on “Beeb: Bangalore Bigots Ban Bollywood Blockbusters

  1. The Cauveri riots, the Gujarati-Marathi riots in Bombay, and the religion-based riots in Gujarat and Ayodhya makes the U.S.’ red-blue state split look trivial.

  2. A potential real analog would be the LA riots, Cincinatti riots, Watts riots, etc. But in those cases the violence was mainly on one side. I guess the first big Hispanic vs. Black riot would be a more appropriate comparator, whenever that eventually happens.

  3. on a more cheerful note, did anyone catch the bodybuilding photos on Yahoo News?

    A big bodybuilding competition is being held in Bangalore:


    Muscle men : Current Professional World Body Building Champion Silvio Samuel (C) of United Kingdom along with fellow countrymen John Clark (L) and Andrew Pinnock (R) pose for the media on the eve of The World Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships India 2004, at the Golden Palms Spa and Resort on the outskirts of Bangalore. (AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)

  4. Just to clarify your post Ennis. India has more than two national languages. Along with Hindi and English (which has associate status) there are 14 others. According to the CIA World Fact Book, they are Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit.

  5. Did they amend this?

    The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. [deleted] Notwithstanding anything in clause (1), for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement: Provided that the President may, during the said period, by order authorise the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for any of the official purposes of the Union. [source]

    I could well be wrong, I haven’t followed the twists and turns of this. I know that you are allowed to take your civil service exams in any of the 14 languages, but I thought that government work was done primarily in the two national languages, Hindi and English.

    What do I know — I’m an ABCD!

  6. they’re fighting over language now…u gotta b kidding me! what will they think of next?!?????????????????!!! india has so many dialects and it is a choice for the individual speakers to utilize and speak them as they see fit but to ban a languge b/c some political corrupt crowd believes it is a direct rival to another is bullshit! i understand ethnocentrism but this is becoming a tad too much!

  7. This article is not correct. Well there are NOT 30% of Tamils in blore. Dynamics of Blore has changed over the last 7 yrs. Blore is a cosmpolitan city with 42% of local Kannadiga poulation and the rest is people from all different states, predominantly from North India. There is a motive beyond language reasons to ban non-Kannada movies. Ban is not just in Blore but in the entire state. First Reason is Karnataka is the ONLY state in India which screens movies in 6 languages and there are very few theaters in Karnataka when compared to other states. The second reason is the film distributor lobby though not powerful is rich and mostly non-locals from other states and they have been trying to push other language films all over Karnataka to spread the market of non-kannada movies for their profits. Kannadigas who are openminded buffs have always accepted films irrespective of language. But the cheap tricks played by distributors and the gartitude-less politicians bled the kannada film industry and an average Kannadiga and hence the BAN!! Now let me also point out that though a sizeable Tamils live in Blore, they are hated by local Kannadigas for their arrogant attitude and indebtedness. It is these people who came looking for jobs in the princely state of Karnataka. Their problem was they never adapted to the locals or local kannada culture and hence major ire is drawn against them. With due respects, there is no significance of having a Tiruvallur statue in Blore. It is like forcing a church to host a ShivaLing!! Tiruvallur has not done anything to Kannadigas or Karnataka. Though there were Kavery riots it was a politicized issue and both the states had committed mistakes. Lastly the media is to be blamed for making this a big issue. Though the movement has subsized a little, i am sure its going to comeback again until rightful things are not chalked out in Blore or India! Jai Hind, Jai Karnataka Mathe

  8. Bud, let me suggest a simple reason why Kannada films are not well-received in Ktka – they are just terrible.

    Maybe you could step down the vitriol and start making some (at least barely) watchable movies?

  9. Well the problem i think is with the arrogant and stupid North Indians who impose their f*** langage where ever they go…I am a kannadiga in b’lore nd i hav a lot of Tamil frnds who speak good kannada…But in turn the northies never speak to local ppl in english/kannada but in hindi…they imposed their language IN RADIOS/THEATRES AND HENCE THE ERUPTION…Those arrogant minded hindians say hindi is the national language nd impose their shit language in Karnataka by all means…Also,hindi is ONE OF THE OFFICIAL LANG. OF INDIA INCLUDING OTHER LANGUAGES…

  10. Well the problem i think is with the arrogant and stupid North Indians who impose their f*** langage where ever they go

    following the tech bubble in india (mainly bangalore), a LOT of north indians have moved to bangalore – i was surprised when i visited bangalore few years back and also have heard this from my friends and family still back in bangalore – this is essentially changing blore – if you walk into any restuarant or pub, you will hear people talking in hindi – if you were a native bangalorean you know this was not the case 10 years ago – walking in MG Road blore – is now entirely different :-(

    with that said, bangalore has always had a issue with tamilians – the fact is that tamilians are THE most radical people when it comes to their language and state (ask any tamilian and they will openly support LTTE)

    although i think that banning hindi and tamil films might not do much, i am glad to see my fellow kannadigas do something to preserve our state the way it used to be – bangaloreans and kannadigas are very passive people when it comes to these issues (compare to any other indian sate, especially any other south indian state)

    so ennis my friend, if you ask me and certainly any other native bangalorean, calling these people “bangalore bigots” is just plain harsh – their reaction, if you ask me, is very mild

  11. so called northndians are unclean,nasty fkk****rz &their hindi is hapahazard,backward shit like jargon.but when these beggers arrive in big cities like bangalore they show off as if born to britisherz. we kannadigas are culturally farmore superior&ahead of these bihari&UPite nasty beggerz so we shall be proud of kannada &avoid migrant northindians and their bull shit language de disgrace called hindi.kannadave sathya kannadve nitya.

  12. Kannadigas have been abusing and assaulting people from other states. This is really strange. Are they not part of India?