Nepal capital bans Indian films amid row over Adipurush dialogues

Kathmandu mayor bans screening of Indian films after movie inspired by Hindu epic Ramayana sparks controversy.

Adipurush film India
Actors Devdatta Nage, Sunny Singh, Prabhas and Kriti Sanon at the trailer launch of their mythological movie Adipurush in Mumbai [File: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP]

The mayor of Nepal’s capital has banned the screening of hugely popular Indian films after a movie inspired by the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana sparked controversy.

Critics have taken issue with lines of dialogue in the film Adipurush, which was released globally in Hindi and four other Indian languages on Friday.

The inspiration for the movie, the Ramayana, centres on King Rama’s attempt to save his kidnapped wife Sita.

Sita was believed to have been born in Janakpur, a southern district of Nepal, but the film suggests she was born in India, triggering anger in Kathmandu.

Before the film’s release, Kathmandu’s Mayor Balendra Shah warned it would not be screened if that section remained, and censors cut the offending dialogue for Nepali audiences.

But since the film remained unchanged outside Nepal, Shah issued a wider ban in protest.

“Banning only this film in the Kathmandu municipality while it runs in other parts of the country and abroad will establish a misleading fact,” Shah wrote on social media on Sunday.

“So screening of any Indian film will be prohibited from tomorrow [Monday] in Kathmandu municipality unless the objectionable part is removed from the film.”

The film’s distributor in Nepal, Shree Byankatesh Entertainment, said on Monday cinemas in several other cities and towns had postponed screening Adipurush over “security concerns”.

Nakim Uddin, founder of QFX Cinemas, Nepal’s largest cinema chain, said they were challenging the ban.

“The announcement has disturbed the screening of Indian films in Kathmandu, but we are moving to court against it,” Uddin told the AFP news agency on Monday.

In India also, Adipurush has courted controversy, including for its depictions of the monkey deity Hanuman, Rama and Sita.

Screenwriter Manoj Muntashir Shukla and the film’s producers have said some “objectionable” dialogues would be changed.

“I wrote more than 4,000 dialogues for Adipurush, emotions were hurt by some five,” Shukla tweeted on Sunday.

Heavy on special effects, the film cost about $61m to make and collected nearly half that in the first two days of its release.

Nepal has banned Indian films several times in the past.

In 2009, the Bollywood movie Chandni Chowk to China was banned following protests against its claim that Buddha, who is believed to have been born in Nepal, was born in India.

In 2012, a hardline communist party demanded cinemas stop showing Bollywood movies to curb what they said was New Delhi’s influence in the Himalayan nation.

Source: News Agencies