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Da Vinci Code release stayed

The movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code will not be screened in India until the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry and Church representatives give consent.

May 17, 2006

Bowing to the demands of fringe groups, the Indian Central Government on Tuesday decided not to give clearance to screen the much awaited film Da Vinci Code.

The government said the clearance would not be given till the I&B ministry and the Catholic Church certifies that the Tom Hanks movie, and adaptation of the best selling book Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, will not hurt Christian sensitivities.

This means that the film’s fate awaits the clearance of I&B Minister P R Dasmunsi, who along with members of the Catholic Churches' Association of India (CCAI) and officials of the I&B ministry and Censor Board, would view the movie in camera.

Only after this in-camera screening will a decision on whether to allow screening of the movie or not will be taken.

Dasmunsi said certain elements were trying to create mischief and instability in the country in the name of the film and hence the government was being extra cautious.

Sony Television had screened the film for some officials of the I&B ministry and representatives of the Christian community who found nothing objectionable in the film. They recommended that a disclaimer be prominently inserted at the beginning of the film, stating that it is a work of fiction and has no connection to reality. Despite this, the Centre wants to get the representatives of the Catholic Church of the country satisfied, to be on the safer side.

Many religious organisations representing the Church had urged Dasmunsi to view the film himself before allowing screening. And that is exactly what is being done, much to the dismay of movie buffs. Dasmunsi said that since these groups had made a representation to the government it was his duty to check the facts before the screening of Da Vinci Code is allowed.

But sources said since the film is slated for release on Friday, the same day of it’s global release, a decision would be taken soon.

Dasmunsi pointed out that the government representatives had viewed Rang De Basanti five times before permitting its screening and hence it was justified to have a cautious approach to Da Vinci Code.

Meanwhile, the christian community is divided in its reactions. While most agree that the movie does hurt christian sentiments not all are for the ban. Says Fr. Ignatius Mascarenhas of the Sacred Heart cathedral in Delhi, "Bans don't work. People will find a way to watch the movie if they want to. When the media and those going on fasts unto death hype the issue so much, it just makes the movie more intriguing and arresting."

On the other hand, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India is happy with the government's decision to stop the release of the Da Vinci Code in India until it is cleared by the representatives of the government and the church. CBCI Deputy Secretary General Father Donald De Souza wants the movie banned because it is based on wrong notions of Christianity and its tenets.

The Goa government has passed a resolution to ban the movie and has also requested a nationwide ban.

The Da Vinci Code will be the opening movie at this year’s Cannes film festival which begins today, two days before its premiere.

Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany, and Jean Reno star in Da Vinci Code. The novel was a best seller.

Anand Patwardhan's award winning documentary War and Peace was also cleared only after Dasmunsi viewed it.



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