Mumbai: The film fraternity on Monday reacted with shock and indignation to Raj Thackeray's offensive against Amitabh Bachchan and North Indians warning that 'dangerous sentiments' were being whipped up to serve 'personal agendas'.
Eminent directors and producers hoped that good sense would soon prevail among Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and that they refrain from wanton attacks.
Shyam Benegal said he was shocked and disgusted at the latest turn of events in Mumbai and wondered what was the rationale or logic behind raking up a non-issue.
"Indians are Indians everywhere in India, Maharashtra is no exception, it is not a country on its own. Mumbai is not a city on its own," Benegal said.
The filmmaker said it was rather silly to say that Amitabh Bachchan makes his money in Maharashstra and decides to do things elsewhere in India. The remark came in the light of Raj Thackeray questioning Amitabh's loyalties to Maharashtra.
"That's up to him where he wishes to use his money," Benegal said.
In a veiled attack on Raj Thackeray, Mahesh Bhatt said the manner in which political goals were sought to be achieved showed that some leaders are short-sighted and do not have a long-term vision.
"The issue is far bigger than an individual or a particular icon. The issue is Bollywood is part of Mumbai and Mumbai is a part of India. What is happening in Mumbai is something dangerous and we need to caution ourselves against," he said.
Two theatres in Thane and Nashik screening Bhojpuri films were attacked on Sunday by MNS activists who also targetted some vendors and taxi drivers belonging to north India in Central Mumbai.
Another filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi said Amitabh Bachchan has every right in his individual capacity to open educational centres or to fund whatever he wants in whichever state in India. The foundation stone for a girl’s inter-college in Daulutpur village in Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh to be built by the Bachchan family was laid last week.
"I feel it is terrible that we are politicising India all over again because of dirty politics," she said. Lajmi said it was regrettable that Bachchan was being targetted despite being the cultural ambassador of India.
Star-turned politician Shatrugan Sinha said all Indians can live together in harmony in Mumbai with "the blessings and support of all Maharashtrians in general and Raj Thackeray and Balasaheb Thackeray in particular."