x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Director fears Indian ban for film showing in UAE

A film that shows the destruction of a fictional dam has been banned by an Indian state where a debate over a real dam has been brewing for decades. The film's director fears that other Indian states might follow suit.

DUBAI // An Indian filmmaker based in the UAE said he could face huge financial losses if his film, which came to cinemas in the Emirates yesterday, is bannedthroughout his home country.

"The movie opened to a good reception in the UAE," said Sohan Roy, the Sharjah-based Indian director and marine engineer.

The Indian state Tamil Nadu has banned Dam999but has not explained the reasons for the decision. Although the film is inspired by the 1975 Banqiao Dam collapse in China, in which about 250,000 people died, political parties in India have suggested it is about the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala.

"The movie opened to a good reception in the UAE," said Mr Roy.

He said the state government's decision was "most unfortunate", adding that he fears other Indian states might follow suit.

The Mullaperiyar Dam, which provides water for the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is 116 years old and the creaking structure is a contentious issue in India. But Mr Roy saidDam999 is not about the structure in southern India.

"This is the most unfortunate incident in the Indian film industry," he said. "No political party has ever banned a film without seeing it."

Last year, Mr Roy made a documentary titled, DAMs: The Lethal Water Bombs, which discussed the possible collapse of the Mullaperiyar Dam. He said the shorter film's subject from last year could have sparked the controversy over his latest project.

"All political parties have come together and are pressurising the [central] government to ban the film. We will face huge losses if it is banned," said Mr Roy.

The 111-minute Dam999 follows nine different characters - from mariners to family men -as they come to terms with the looming disaster of a bursting dam.

The film cost more than US$10million (Dh36.7m) to make, and has been dubbed in five languages, including English. It is scheduled to be shown in Indian cinemas today.

pkannan@thenational.ae