Kahaani promo strikes a Metro nerve

By bappaditya paul

Upcoming Bollywood thriller Kahaani, starring Vidya Balan, appears to have run into controversy with the Kolkata Metro Railway authorities asking the film’s producer-director to take some of its promotional clips off the air as they are “damaging” the image of the Metro Railway. The film is to be released on 9 March.

Metro Railway has problem with a particular clip wherein the lead character (played by Vidya) is shown being pushed in front of a speeding train at the Kalighat Metro station. The clip, it is felt, reminds viewers of the recurrent suicides on the Metro tracks. Promos of the movie are being aired on TV and other medium.

“We have seen the promos and the particular clip is very damaging to Metro Railway’s image. We have spoken to the film’s director and are also sending him a letter this evening asking him to change or withdraw the particular clip from all publicity platforms like TV channels and YouTube at the earliest,” Metro spokesperson Protyush Ghosh said.

This comes at a time the Railway Board is sitting over a pilot project sent to it last August for installation of Platform Screen Doors (PSD) at Metro stations in the city to prevent suicides.

Since Metro Railway’s inception in 1984, there have been 232 suicide attempts on the Metro tracks. In 2011, the number of suicide attempts was 24. Till now this year, seven suicide attempts have been made, the latest one being at the Netaji Bhavan Metro station on 20 February. Suicides on the tracks not only cost lives, they also disrupt Metro services.

To stop this growing trend, the Metro authorities last year mooted a pilot project for installing PSDs and forwarded it to the Railway Board for sanction under a supplementary work plan for 2011-12.

The Rs 35.5-crore project was conceived emulating the PSDs functional at six Metro stations in Delhi Metro’s Airport Express Line. PSDs keep the edges of platforms covered until a train stops at a station, thus eliminating the chances of anyone attempting a jump in front of trains. The Board is yet to clear the project.

The producer-director and screenplay writer of Kahaani, Sujoy Ghosh, said the suicides on Metro tracks did not in any way inspire him in conceiving the scene where the principal protagonist is seen being pushed in front of a running train.

“No deeper thoughts went into this, it just happened… I chose Kolkata as the setting of the movie, for, apart from Mumbai, this is the only city I know like the palm of my hand. I know all its positive and dark sides, which is very important in writing a movie,” he said over the phone from Mumbai.

For obvious reasons, the director of Jhankar Beats fame, did not reveal whether Vidya’s character actually dies in the scene. “Let everyone find that out on 9 March.”

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This news item first appeared in The Statesman on 25 Feb 2012.)


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