Film fraternity slams Hindutva group over attacks on Prakash Jha’s ‘Ashram 3’ set

Filmmakers, actors and the Producers Guild of India have condemned the vandalism unleashed by Bajrang Dal activists at the sets of Prakash Jha’s web series ‘Ashram’ in Bhopal on Sunday.

Condemning the attacks, filmmaker Sanjay Gupta commented, “Disgusting”, while Hansal Mehta tweeted that “scared silence and continued deference will only empower such hooligans and further such oppression.”

“But who will bell the cat?” asks Mehta.

In its statement the Producers Guild wrote, “The Producers Guild of India strongly condemns the brazen acts of violence, harassment and vandalism faced by the crew involved in the production of the series Ashram in Bhopal. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and the Guild is alarmed to note the frequency with which the production and exhibition sectors are severely and illegally disrupted by various elements with impunity”.

The Guild further urged the relevant authorities to take action against the perpetrators.

The shooting of the third season of Ashram was going on in the Arera Hills area of Bhopal when Bajrang Dal workers showed up and started damaging the vehicles on the spot.

Actor Bobby Deol, who plays the lead character in the series, was also present at the spot has not responded yet in public. Bajrang Dal’s provincial convener Sushil warned that Prakash Jha will have to change the name of the series or they won’t let the shooting continue. The Hindutva men also said they blackened the face of Prakash Jha and are searching for Bobby Deol, who should learn from his elder brother Sunny Deol (Bollywood actor and BJP MP), who has played roles in patriotic movies.”

Speaking to PTI news agency, Superintendent of Police (SP), Bhopal south, Sai Krishna Thota, said that “Bajrang Dal activists objected that this web series hurt the sentiments of Hindus as it contains obscene scenes.”

After throwing ink at Prakash Jha, the assaliants pelted stones, damaging the windscreens of two busses and injuring one person. Prakash Jha and the team of ‘Ashram 3’ were reportedly shooting at the Old Jail Premises area located in Arera Hills. Police personal had reached the spot soon after and brought the situation under control.

Actor Swara Bhaskar responded, ‘Shocking, shameful and utterly believable!’ through her Twitter account, sharing the video of Bajrang Dal workers vandalising the set.

Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra tweeted, “What ? This is terrible . The industry has to get together otherwise … (do I have to state it ) . Come on , “Associations “ . Stand with your members !”

The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) also urged authorities to take action against assailants. Their statement read, “The attack on sets of web series Ashram in Bhopal and the threats and abuses passed on to the Producer/Director Prakash Jha and the cast and crew members of the said series is strongly condemned by the FWICE. On behalf of all the workers, technicians and the actors we wish to appeal the Government to take cognizance of the incident and initiate stringent action against all those involved into this vandalism. The safety and security of our members is at high risk and increasing day by day due to such incidents and ignorance of the same by the respective authorities. We look for justice”.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra on Monday backed the demand of the vandals calling for a change in the name and content of the series.

“I support it (demand to change the show’s name). Do you dare to keep some other name? Don’t do things that will cause problems. What happened (violence at ‘Ashram’ sets) was wrong, four arrests were made. But Jha sahab, you should also think of the wrong you’re doing,” Mishra was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.