Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri was at the centre of a controversy on Friday, this one not about his film ‘The Kashmir Files’, but for stating that the term ‘Bhopali’ means ‘homosexual’ in local parlance.
State Congress leaders lashed out at him for “insulting” the city, and demanded an apology.
A video clip of Agnihotri’s interview to an online channel went viral ahead of his Bhopal visit on Friday to participate in a film festival.
The clip, said to be three weeks old, shows Agnihotri saying in Hindi, “I have grown up in Bhopal, but I am not a Bhopali. Because Bhopali has a different connotation. You can ask any Bhopali. I will explain it to you in private. If someone says he is Bhopali, it generally means he is homosexual, a person with Nawabi likings.”
Among those who objected to Agnihotri’s remark was senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
“Vivek Agnihotri ji, this might be your personal experience. This is not the experience of an ordinary Bhopal resident. I have been associated with Bhopal and Bhopalis since 1977, but my experience has not been so. The influence of company has an effect, wherever you may live,” Mr Singh tweeted.
Agnihotri was also trolled on social media, where many Bhopal netizens questioned his sweeping comment, which they felt was in bad taste.
Former state minister P C Sharma demanded an apology from Agnihotri, saying Bhopal is known for the cultural heritage of Raja Bhoj, the Bharat Bhawan, arts and the city’s culture. Agnihotri has committed a crime by using words like “homosexual” for the people of Bhopal, he added.
MP Congress’ media in-charge K K Mishra asked if state home minister Narottam Mishra will take action against Agnihotri, like in the case of some other film producers who have faced the state government’s wrath in recent times.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) workers, led by its Bhopal unit president Abhimanyu Tiwari, set afire Agnihotri’s posters and demanded an apology from him.
Madhya Pradesh Congress media cell’s vice president Bhupendra Gupta termed Agnihotri’s remarks as insulting for 25 lakh residents of Bhopal, and demanded that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan not take part in any public programme with Agnihotri till the latter apologised.