Radical group is angered that Pakistan is being portrayed on Indian soil, but a production employee on Kathryn Bigelow’s film insists that the show will go on
Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming film about the hunt for terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has once again stirred up controversy.
The film — which sparked calls for an investigation over claims that the Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were given insider information about the mission to take down bin Laden — has now invoked the ire of a radical Hindu group.
Members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group descended on the set of the film — which stars Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton — in the Indian city of Chandigahr on Friday to protest the fact that the film is portraying Pakistan on Indian soil, Reuters reports.
The film production, which was denied permission to film in Pakistan, has converted parts of Chandigahr to resemble a Pakistani city.
Bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, last May.
"They have made Chandigarh like Pakistan, as if it is Pakistan," Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Vijay Bhardwaj told Reuters. "We strongly oppose this and we will not let them put Pakistani flags here, and we will not let them shoot for the film."
The small group of protestors reportedly clashed with cast and crew members as police tried to keep the peace.
A local police authority told the AFP that the protestors removed signs from the set in the Urdu language, which is spoken in Pakistan, as well as Pakistani flags, from the set.
"We don't want Pakistani flags on Indian soil and we don't agree that Indian markets should look like Pakistan," VHP secretary Ramkrishna Srivastava told AFP.
Sony had no comment for TheWrap.
Despite the protests, a member of the Indian line production company handling the film said that production will go on. "Nothing has been shut down. We are still filming and will continue to do so," the production company employee said.
According to the employee, Chandigarh is simply being used for "establishing" shots, while the heavy-duty shooting will take place outside of India.
"No real sets have been built at all. The actual re-creation of Abbottabad will not even be in India. It's being done in Jordan," the employee told AFP, adding that there have been talks in an effort to make peace with the protestors.
In August, the film — which reportedly bears the working title "Zero Dark Thirty," slang for very early in the morning — drew criticism from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who suggested that the Obama administration shared confidential documents with the filmmakers and called for an investigation. The White House denied the claims.
Meanwhile, the film's release date was moved from Oct. 12, 2012 — weeks before the presidential election — to later in the year, in order to avoid accusations that the movie would give Obama a political advantage. Bigelow and Boal have denied that the film will contain a pro-Obama slant.