The Indian filmmaker behind a film that satirizes India’s village council system has sought police protection after one council of elders placed a bounty on his head.
Vinod Kapri said he became concerned after three men arrived at his studio in Mumbai late on Wednesday, one week after the council in northern Uttar Pradesh state offered 51 buffaloes to anyone who offered to behead Mr Kapri, director of ‘Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho’.
“Initially I didn’t take it seriously but now I have spoken to the police,” said Mr Kapri.
The bounty was announced by the elders in Muzaffarnagar following the release of the film’s trailer that pokes fun at village councils or khap panchayats whose rulings have long sparked controversy.
“There’s anger against the movie and its depiction of the khaps.
“We want a ban on the movie and among many things a bounty of 51 buffaloes was put on his head,” Raju Ahalawat, a council leader, told AFP.The film, to be released on 26 June, tells the story of a young man accused of raping a buffalo named Miss Tanakpur by a village strongman, who encourages the council to order his marriage to the buffalo.
Kapri denied the film targets khaps, saying it is a satire on the country’s deficient systems such as corrupt and inefficient police officers and hospitals.
“We have taken cinematic liberty to include other elements including the khap but in real-life khaps have ordered the banning of mobile phones, jeans and chow mein,” he said.
Khaps are seen as the social and moral arbiters of village life.
Although they carry no legal weight, khaps can be highly influential and have been blamed for numerous abuses such as the sanctioning of “honour killings” of couples defying tradition.
Branded “kangaroo courts” by critics, they have also been known to hand down public beatings and other punishments for perceived crimes.