Catholics in India calling for protest of 'objectionable' Bollywood film

Bollywood film CNA World Catholic News 9 24 2012 A scene from "Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal" in which a priest is shown dancing with a string of lottery tickets.

Catholic groups in India have called for the protest of an upcoming Hindi film if scenes portraying believers and clergy in an offensive manner are not removed from the film.

"If the clergy of any other religion would not be seen in such a manner, why is it expected that the Christian community keep quiet over such mockery and ridicule of its faith?" Joseph Dias said in a Sept. 21 statement from the Catholic-Christian Secular Forum.

Dias, who is head of the ecumenical group, noted that while stereotyping of Christians has existed in films, the movie "Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal" is a "new low" for Bollywood.

Among the objectionable scenes are a dance number featuring a Catholic priest on the steps of a church while wearing a garland of lottery tickets and rosary, a live person hiding in a coffin marked with a cross, and a priest holding a bouquet of flowers bearing the message, "I love you."

In an e-mail to supporters, Dias encouraged all Christians to voice their disapproval over the film, which is set to release Sept. 26. Dias said that for the most part, Christians do not "protest vociferously enough."

A group of representatives from various Catholic groups in India along with a priest of the Archdiocese of Bombay met and submitted a request to the Central Board of Film Certification Sept. 23 asking that the film's release be postponed until the objectionable scenes are removed.

Despite the Indian government having control over the censorship and rating of the country's booming film industry, Dias said it seems that movies mocking Christianity slip through more easily than others.

"The movie passed by the (Central Board of Film Certification) has hurt our religious sentiments and is giving the impression that the government is taking Christians for granted," he said.

Judith Monterio of the Mumbai-based  Association of Concerned Catholics said the negative portrayal of Christians is so serious that a special screening of the film to a board of Catholic representatives should be required before the film can hit theaters, the Times of India reported.

Father Rueben Tellis of the Bombay archdiocese said that a permanent member of the Catholic community should be placed in the Central Board of Film Certification to prevent future offenses.

Although India is the second most populous country in the world, with roughly 1.2 billion people, only about two percent of the population is Catholic.

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