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Buddha film, past revisted

by ABDUL QADIR, TIMES NEWS NETWORK, NOVEMBER 24, 2004

GAYA, India -- Now that B K Modi has, for the second time, come out with the proposal to make a film on Gautam Buddha, questions are being asked whether Shekhar Kapoor will succeed where Mira Nair of the Salaam Bombay fame failed.

About 12 years back, Modi wanted to make a film on Buddha and Mira Nair was to direct the film. But the project had to be abandoned, following strong protest from various Buddhist groups who opposed the film project on several counts, including Buddha's projection as an incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver. Another reason of protest was that the more devout among the Buddha followers, for religious reasons opposed an enlightened Buddha being shown as an ordinary human being of bone and flesh.

The protest was so strong that Mira Nair, during her three-day stay in Bodh Gaya, in connection with the aborted film project had to seek police protection. The project was subsequently shelved. That time, too, BK Modi was the man behind the Buddha film project.

Though Modi does not want to make comparisons between the aborted film project and its revival more than a decade later, controversy is bound to haunt this project as the objections then raised by the Buddhist groups remain valid even today.

Asked about the reasons of his optimism, B K Modi, the industrialist president of the Mahabodhi Society who has announced to make an initial investment of Rs 50 crore in the mega budget film told The Telegraph of Iindia on phone on Sunday evening that the last time he was only supporting the Buddha film project and now he was fully into it.

Explaining the failure of the earlier film project, Modi denied that the film was abandoned either on account of the hostile response to director Mira Nair during her Bodh Gaya visit or due to the protest registered by Buddhist groups. He attributed the non-production of the film to personal problems of some people associated with the project.

Modi claimed that the new project had the blessings of the most influential Buddhist spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Modi remained evasive on the issue whether Buddha, in the new film, would be portrayed as an incarnation of Vishnu.

All that he said was that while making the film, the sentiments of different Buddhist sects would be given due consideration.

Well-known Buddhist scholar has his own reservations on the making of Buddha. May be it was part of a game plan to establish Buddha as an incarnation of God Vishnu. And if so, it will not be acceptable to the Buddhists. Moreover, the presence of glamour girls, like Aishwarya Rai, in the film will be in poor taste, said Roy.


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