Friday, June 04, 2010

Indian film stars call for boycott of 'Bollywood Oscars' over Tamil deaths

Jason Burke in New Delhi - The Indian film industry's "Bollywood Oscars" started in Sri Lanka today despite calls for a boycott over alleged killings of ethnic Tamil civilians.

Actors and directors from India's southern states asked stars not to attend the three-day extravaganza because of the alleged deaths caused by Sri Lankan armed forces in the last days of the island's 25-year civil war last year.

The Tamil minority have deep family and cultural links with the tens of millions of Tamils living in India, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu.

According to Indian media, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, his actor son Abhishek and daughter-in-law, former Miss World and actor Aishwarya Rai, have decided not to attend along with Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood actor who is best known internationally. All have cited work commitments.

L Suresh, head of the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, said the call for a boycott was "about humanitarianism not politics". He said: "You can't have people performing over freshly dug graves. We are not in the era of Genghis Khan."

However Sabba Joseph, director of Wizcraft International, which owns the International Indian Film Academy, said the event was going ahead. "Frankly, the dates and location have been known for months and it is only the last few days that people have suddenly got interested."

Actor Vivek Oberoi said he was attending despite earlier concerns, citing a charity cricket match between stars and the Sri Lankan national side to raise funds to help former Tamil Tigers child soldiers as one reason. Sri Lanka has repeatedly denied that civilians were bombarded indiscriminately at the end of the war.

© Guardian

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