KATHMANDU, Oct 5: Thursday was a dull day for university student Sudeep Sharma, 28, who loves to watch foreign movies in the theatre with his friends.
The world is becoming a global village but we are trying to build a separate village up in the air, he felt and his ire was directed against the CPN-Maoist who recently decided to ban bollywood movies, purportedly to stop foreign cultural encroachment.
Sharma said, “I love to watch Hollywood and bollywood movies but this doesn´t mean I am not conscious about our own culture. We must upgrade our film industry rather than banning those of others.”
Like Sharma, businessman Bikash Singh, 34, also believes banning foreign movies is not the solution. “We can form a body to regulate anti-cultural activities and promote indigenous cinema but viewers should have the choice of entertainment on the basis of the law. A party or group can´t oppose the right to entertainment and to be informed.”
Wholesome entertainment is the right of all citizens and this right shouldn´t be suppressed by any group or party, according to Gauri Pradhan, spokesperson of the National Human Rights Commission.
“I don´t like to comment on the Maoist ban on movies but if any complaint about the right to entertainment comes to the commission, we will obviously make some statement,” Pradhan said.
Almost 50 cinema halls throughout the country showing Hindi films stopped screening bollywood movies from Monday. The ban has affected thousands, causing a loss of millions, said Pradip Uday, general secretary of Nepal Film Association.
“The tussle is between the CPN-Maoist and the government, so they need to talk soon. But we can´t tolerate losses for long and foreign movies will soon be back on the screens”, he said.
Raj Kumar Rai, chairman of Nepal Film Producers Association, said the association is not against foreign movies, but has agreed to stop screening Hindi movies in order to promote Nepali movies.
“We need to choose a quota system for foreign movies like in France, where foreign movies are dubbed in French to protect against cultural encroachment,” Rai said.
According to Ramchandra Simkhada, secretary of Forum for Protection of Consumers Rights-Nepal, the ban has suppressed the right to choose different products in the market. He said, “Banning foreign movies is not necessary and people have the right to choose from alternatives, but not if certain products harm national integrity and culture.”
But President of All Nepal People´s Cultural Federation Ishwar Chandra Gyawali said that the ban has promoted the native film industry and blocked foreign cultural invasion. “We have neither violated human rights nor banned foreign movies to gain cheap popularity", he claimed, and warned, “If the government and other bodies continue with a slave mentality we are sure to launch more stringent protests.”
The Maoists plan to regulate Hindi songs in public places and in public transport vehicles and distribution of foreign movie cds and dvds, as a second phase program.
But the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) on Thursday issued a press release saying that the Maoist move was objectionable and unfortunate. “This step is not acceptable, it doesn´t support a free market economy, it hampers hundreds of jobs and affects national revenue.” Though FNCCI has called for a withdraw of the decision, the Maoists don´t seem to be responding.