Director Hansal Mehta has responded to National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah’s criticism of filming of a show in the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly complex, saying that such an “unwelcoming attitude” is the reason why India is considered an “unfriendly shooting location”.
Abdullah, the former chief minister of the erstwhile state of J&K, had on Friday criticised the Jammu and Kashmir administration for allowing shooting of Huma Qureshi-starrer “Maharani” inside the assembly complex and called it an “absolute shame”.
Mehta, the maker of critically-acclaimed series like “Scam 1992” and “Scoop”, replied to Abdullah’s post on X, calling it “disrespectful” and “regressive”.
“Why is it a shame? How is filming of a drama demeaning democracy or the ‘mother of democracy’? Every body on a film set including actors, background actors(called ‘extras’ by you) are all citizens of this country and have every right to work with dignity and deserve respect and understanding- at least from somebody as educated as yourself,” the filmmaker said.
In countries around the world, filmmakers and actors are allowed to use public places, government buildings and council halls for shooting, Mehta added.
“It is because of this unwelcoming attitude that India is considered an unfriendly shooting location and we often prefer shooting abroad. I have great respect for you but this feels very disrespectful, regressive and myopic,” the filmmaker said.
“Maharani”, created by Subhash Kapoor, was shot inside the assembly complex in Jammu in June last year. The series is inspired by political turns in Bihar in the 1990s when the then chief minister Lalu Prasad, mired in the infamous fodder scam, installed his wife Rabri Devi as his successor.
In his post on X, Abdullah had said, “The true face of ‘the mother of democracy’, where once elected representatives of the people from all parties, religions, backgrounds & parts of J&K legislated on matters of great importance now actors & extras use it as a set for TV dramas.” He said it was a “shame that the BJP driven government in J&K has reduced the symbol of democracy, where they once sat and governed, to this sorry state of affairs”.
Abdullah further wrote, “They even have a fake CM coming out of an office I was privileged to occupy for 6 years. What an absolute shame!!!!” The J-K legislative assembly was dissolved by the Governor on December 20, 2018.
There have been no assembly elections in J-K which was bifurcated into two Union territories – J-K and Ladakh – on August 5, 2019. The Centre also annulled Article 370 of the Constitution which accorded a special status to the erstwhile state. Ladakh is a Union Territory without assembly. (PTI)