Catholic groups in India who opposed the release of a new Bollywood film have suspended their protest following state media officials' promise to remove objectionable scenes.
The Central Board of Film Certification in India, or “censor board,” has assured the representatives of various Catholic groups that the offensive scenes will be removed from an upcoming Hindi film and that more caution will be used in the future.
Joseph Dias of the ecumenical group, The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum, told supporters in a Sept. 28 email that Censor Board chairperson, Leela Samson, has assured protestors, “the film was shown to a Catholic review member and necessary action had been taken.”
The film “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” came under the criticism of various Christian groups in India for multiple scenes including a dance number featuring a Catholic priest on the steps of a church while wearing a garland of lottery tickets and rosary, a live person hiding in a coffin marked with a cross, and a priest holding a bouquet of flowers bearing the message, “I love you.”
No further protest will be encouraged until the viewing of the film at an Oct. 1 gathering of community leaders.
“We decided to temporarily suspend our agitation,” Dias told supporters.
Members of various Christian groups lead a protest and procession from St. Peter's Church in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai, to the film certification board's headquarters Sept. 26.
The protestors demanded the resignation of Censor Board CEO, Pankaja Thakur, and chairperson Samson, as well as the deletion of the objectionable scenes.
Thakur shared a report with protestors stating the changes to the film had been made and asking groups to come back after the viewing, “in case they were dissatisfied after watching the movie.”
Dias and his group have remained adamant in their demand of Thakur's resignation and Samson's transfer, for “repeatedly allowing films that hurt the sentiments of various communities.”
Aside from “Kamaal Dhamaal Malmaal,” Christian groups have also taken offense with the 2012 film, “Kai Super Kool Hai Hum” which featured a Catholic priest solemnizing the wedding of two dogs and then sprinkling them with holy water as they mated.
The groups have also called for the closure of the censor board's Mumbai, saying that it has become little more than “ lobby of the film industry” and is consistently “not sensitive to religious sentiments.”
President of Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism, Bishop Felix Machado of Vasai, told Fides News Agency Sept. 27 that, “In India we Christians are a small minority, and sometimes this penalizes us.”
“Episodes like this are not good for humanity and religious harmony in the world,” he said.
More than 100 people appeared for the protest and procession, but no violence was reported.