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'Illegal' Bollywood set demolished

May 09, 2011

A film set in Bhopal, where scenes for 'Aarakshan', were about to be shot featuring Deepika Padukone, Saif Ali Khan, and Amitabh Bachchan was demolished by the local authorities. - AFP File Photo

MUMBAI (AFP): Authorities in the Indian city of Bhopal have demolished a Bollywood set being used for the latest Amitabh Bachchan movie, claiming it was an illegal structure, the movie's publicists said.

Bulldozers moved in to knock down the 1.5-acre set, which included a bungalow belonging to the character played by Bachchan in “Aarakshan” (Reservation), which also features Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan.

The demolition was ordered by the district magistrate's office, Imagesmiths said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

“It was an illegal structure, so it was demolished,” assistant district magistrate Rajnish Shrivastava was quoted as saying.

“The (Bhopal) High Court had directed us to demolish the structure. We did what we were supposed to because the construction on that area was not legal.”

Film director Prakash Jha said his production company had taken the land on lease without realising it was disputed property. But he questioned whether the demolition was necessary.

“It would have been dismantled within a month. Everyone in Bhopal knew it was a set,” he added.

Shooting had taken place between January and March but the film's schedule was now disrupted, Jha said. “Now we have to work out alternative arrangements,” he added.

The demolition is the latest setback to hit a Bachchan film. Last month, activists from a local hardline Hindu nationalist party stormed the set of the action movie “Bbuddha”, claiming that 40 foreign dancers were performing without valid work permits.

Shooting was halted while police checked paperwork.