NEW DELHI: A new Bollywood film has cut a scene showing a “Free Tibet” flag on the orders of India's censor board, sparking protests from the exiled Tibetan community, a report said on Wednesday.
“Rockstar”, directed by Imtiaz Ali, ran into trouble over the scene which shows fans waving the flag as the male lead, played by popular actor Ranbir Kapoor, sings the song “Saada Haq” (Our Right).
The song was shot at the Tibetan Norbulingka monastery in McLeod Ganj, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas that is home to the Tibet government in exile in India and the Dalai Lama.
“Ali has made the deletions, affording the film a U/A (under adult supervision) rating,” the Times of India reported Wednesday quoting the chief executive of the Indian censor board, Pankaja Thakur.
Beijing is extremely sensitive to any activity seen as “anti-China” and the presence of the Dalai Lama and the large Tibetan exile community in India is a constant irritant in relations between Asia's future superpowers.
The red and blue flag featuring a rising sun is a symbol of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule.
Angry Tibetan activists in India said they would stage rallies across the country to protest the censor's decision to cut the scene.
“It is extremely disturbing that such a grotesque violation of free speech is occurring in the world's largest democracy,” said Dorjee Tseten, the country director of Students for a Free Tibet, in a website post.
Tseten also accused the Indian government of “caving in” to Chinese pressure instead of promoting and protecting the Tibetan people's basic human rights.
Ali, regarded as one of the most talented Bollywood directors with two back-to-back hits under his belt, denied taking any political stand in the film.
“I don't see anything controversial in either the intention or portrayal of the scene,” he told the national NDTV news channel, adding the song was more about personal freedom rather than any geographical or political issue.
Clips of the song showing the flag can still be viewed on You Tube.
The film's music, composed by the Oscar-winning AR Rahman, is already topping the charts.