Fanaa, Narmada, and the BJP

Watch Fanaa if it comes to a theater near you, out of solidarity with Aamir Khan if nothing else.


Apparently, the BJP is angered by Khan, the handsome star of Fanaa (who plays Rehan Qadri, a Kashmiri boy who is serving in the Indian military but secretly working for the Kashmiri independence movement — Rehan gets betrayed and killed by his love Zooni, a Kashmiri girl who is “a patriotic Indian,” choosing “her country” over her man), because he has supported the anti-Narmada Dam campaign; and the party wants to ban Fanaa in Gujarat, making Khan pay for his sympathy for the poor.

  • Anti-Narmada dam agitators, sitting on Dharna and hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar Road in New Delhi for past 20 days demanding that the height of the dam not be raised, got a shot in the arm when leading film actor Aamir Khan paid them a visit on Friday.

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    Aamir listened to the grievances of the agitators with patience but did not utter a word. Clad in black T-shirt and jeans, the film actor also visited the 1984 Bhopal gas victims who have been demonstrating for release of relief fund.

    “Last week when I was in Delhi, I passed by Jantar Mantar and was told about the two campaigns. I decided to come back and learn more about their problems,” he later told reporters.

    Khan said he was pained upon learning of the sufferings of the dam displacees. “I do not know about the technicalities involved in raising the height of the dam. What I do know is that farmers have been displaced from their land and they have lost their livelihood. Till the people who have already been displaced by the dam are not rehabilitated, the height of the dam should not be raised.” (Onkar Singh, “Aamir Lends Support to Narmada Campaign,” Rediff, 14 April 2006)

  • Aamir Khan addressed a press conference outside his home in Khar, north Mumbai, saying he will not apologise about his comments on the Narmada issue.

    “I am saying exactly what the Supreme Court has said. I only asked for rehabilitation of poor farmers. I never spoke against the construction of the dam. I will not apologise for my comments on the issue,” he says.

    Aamir’s remarks against the Gujarat government and Chief Minister Narendra Modi evoked violent protests in Gujarat.

    The state has even decided not to screen his new film, Fanaa, which releases worldwide on Friday. (Rediff Entertainment Bureau, “Aamir on Narmada: I Won’t Apologise,” Rediff 25 May 2006)

  • Describing the virtual ban on screening Fanaa in Gujarat as an indication of “extreme intolerance” displayed by the ruling party and its organisations in Gujarat to any dissent, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded that the Modi Government uphold the law of the land.

    In a statement, the party Polit Bureau said the reported assurance by Chief Minister Narendra Modi of police protection to cinemas showing the film was an eye-wash as it was under his leadership that front organisations of the Sangh combine were threatening cinema owners against showing the film.

    The ire of the protesters was against the solidarity expressed by actor Aamir Khan with the demand for rehabilitation of thousands of tribals and peasant families displaced by the Narmada project. (“CPI(M) Flays Ban on Fanaa in Gujarat,” The Hindu, 26 May 2006)

  • The controversial Aamir Khan film Fanaa was released in Gujarat on Tuesday in the presence of a strong police contingent in a single cinema owned by a high-profile Congress family. (Manas Dasgupta, “Fanaa Released in Gujarat amid Security,” The Hindu, 7 June 2006)

Yoshie Furuhashi is editor of