Bigelow's film on Osama faces protests in Chandigarh

CHANDIGARH Sat Mar 3, 2012 2:40am IST

1 of 2. Activists of radical Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Hindu group, shout slogans during a protest at the shooting site of the movie ''Zero Dark Thirty'' in Chandigarh March 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ajay Verma

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CHANDIGARH (Reuters) - Hindu radicals in the city protested on Friday against the shooting of a film by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, on the grounds that the film-makers were portraying Pakistan on Indian soil.

Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in May last year.

The film-makers, denied permission to film in Pakistan, converted parts of Chandigarh to look like the Pakistani city of Lahore.

But for right-wing Hindus, the use of India to portray sworn enemy Pakistan was too much.

"They have made Chandigarh like Pakistan, as if it is Pakistan," said Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the radical Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Hindu group.

"We strongly oppose this and we will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film."

Billboards with Urdu signs were put up on shops in a market in the north Indian city and auto-rickshaws were running with Lahore number plates. Burqa-clad women and men dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes roamed the streets.

The protesters said the government should have denied permission to make the film on Indian soil.

Bigelow, who won an Oscar for her Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker", was developing a film on the hunt for bin Laden before the al Qaeda leader was killed in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

The film, "Zero Dark Thirty", is due for release in late 2012.

Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan have fought three wars since winning their independence from Britain in 1947. Suspicion between the nuclear-armed rivals lingers.

(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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