Priyanka Chopra, the producer of ‘Pahuna: The Little Visitors’, took the film to Toronto International Film Festival recently. While speaking about the film to ET Canada, Priyanka had said,
“Sikkim is a small state in the North-east of India which never had a film industry or anyone who made films from the region. This is the first film ever that’s come out of that region, because it’s very troubled with insurgency and troubling situations…”
Netizens had erupted with anger over Priyanka’s statement and many had slammed her for “irresponsible” statement.
“Sikkim is one of the most peaceful states, dear Priyanka. We don’t have any insurgency here. Please comment responsibly,”
tweeted Santosh Subban from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.
Tawqeer Hussain added:
“Celebs like her are ‘politically illiterate.’ Earlier, many celebs (didn’t) know the name of the President of India. So don’t expect them to be politically correct.”
Biswatosh Sinha, a scriptwriter from Assam, wrote:
“Dear Priyanka Chopra, Sikkim is a peaceful place and ‘Pahuna’ is not the first film from the region. Plz get the facts right.”
Incidentally, Priyanka is the tourism ambassador of BJP-ruled Assam.
It is being reported that Priyanka Chopra has tendered an apology. She wrote in an email to a minister,
“I’m sorry I have to write to you under these circumstances, but I needed to clarify my stance in regards to the situation which has arisen due to a comment of mine during an interview for my film ‘Pahuna’, which was misunderstood.
As you are aware, I hold the Government and the people of Sikkim in high regard and have in addition to ‘Pahuna’ been looking to tell more great stories from Sikkim.
From the moment I heard the script of ‘Pahuna’, I knew I wanted to share this story with the world. It is important to me because no one else was willing to take a chance on a film like this, which deals with the refugee crises which is an issue that is being dealt with across the world as it is being in Sikkim. ‘Pahuna’ is a film that brings a message of hope and positivity.
My comment, made during an interview at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival 2017, where ‘Pahuna’ made its worldwide debut, was misconstrued. I was talking about the Sikkimese film industry and also the subject of the film, where I mentioned how Sikkim was grappling with the refugee situation caused by insurgencies. I had meant by the ‘neighbouring countries’. I am fully aware that Sikkim is an incredible host nation (sic) to so many refugees and our film shows exactly that through the children’s point of view…
I understand that the statement I made in the interview was open to interpretation. I should have been clearer with my intention. We’ve made a beautiful film that would not have been possible without the support of the government and people of Sikkim. In no way did I intend to offend or hurt anyone’s sentiments and for that I apologise.
I appreciate all the support you have shown me and my team and I wanted to clear the misunderstanding with you directly.”
Sikkim Tourism minister Ugen Gyatso had also told a news channel,
“I condemn Priyanka‘s statement. Being an international figure, it’s a very disappointing comment on her behalf. It has definitely made us feel bad and sad but she has apologised us through a mail, likewise her mother Madhu Chopra also apologised over phone today in presence of Sikkim media persons.”
However Sikkim Tourism Secretary C. Zangpo Bhutia told IANS,
“We have received an apology note from Priyanka Chopra for her comments, where she has written ‘I tender an apology.’ But we are not satisfied. We have asked her to send us another letter in more clear-cut terms.”
Asked what the Sikkim government felt about Chopra’s comments, he said,
“Whatever she said is totally unacceptable. This has tarnished the image of our state. So we asked her to take back her statement and apologize to us. But as we are not satisfied with her first letter, we are waiting for a fresh note from her.”
The director of the film, Paakhi also issued an apology.
Directed by first-timer Paakhi A. Tyrewala, ‘Pahuna’ was launched as an association between the actress and her mother Madhu Chopra‘s banner Purple Pebble Pictures and Ministry of Tourism Sikkim.