Bollywood Controversy: Priest Sexual Affair vs. Religious Censors

Priest sex Shiney AhujaPriest sex movie: 'Sins,' with Shiney Ahuja and Seema Rahmani.

Catholic priest sex leads to another round of Bollywood vs. religious censorship

Vinod Pande's new film, Sins (2005), which chronicles the affair between a hunky Roman Catholic priest (Shiney Ahuja) and a much younger woman (Seema Rahmani), has outraged India's Catholic radicals who refuse to allow members of the clergy to be portrayed in a potentially negative light.

They have demanded that Sins be withdrawn, but Pande has decided to move forward with its release. In a February '05 interview at Rediff, the director complained:

Isn't this fascism? Such intolerance for creative work is not acceptable.

I had done another story on Punjabi extremism. Sardars were up in arms! But I refused to give in to their demands.

I am responsible only to my producers. I hate to point this out, but haven't people seen my earlier work? A boy-meets-girl story has never interested me. In my first film, Ek Baar Phir [Once Again, 1980], three decades ago [sic], the wife walked out on her husband without apology. My films are always about the pain and ecstasy of forbidden love. But I have never gone beyond my aesthetic boundaries.

Yet Joseph Dias, general secretary of India's Catholic Secular Forum, affirms that “religion needs to be a personal affair and should not be a subject for entertainment or for commercial use.”

Does that mean movies such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings and The Ten Commandments should also be banned?

The Crime of Father Amaro'The Crime of Father Amaro,' with Gael García Bernal as a Catholic priest who has an affair with teenager Ana Claudia Talancón.

'The Crime of Father Amaro' and 'Pianese Nunzio'

Some have noticed similarities between Shiney Ahuja's Catholic priest in Sins and the one played by Gael García Bernal in The Crime of Father Amaro / El crimen del padre Amaro (2002), Carlos Carrera's Academy Award-nominated Mexican drama featuring Ana Claudia Talancón as the teenage object of the padre's affection.

Carrera's film – and by extension Sins – also has elements in common with Antonio Capuano's excellent Pianese Nunzio, Fourteen in May / Pianese Nunzio, 14 anni a maggio (1996), in which a Neapolitan priest and social crusader (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) has a sexual relationship with an adolescent male (Emanuele Gargiulo).

See also: “Sex Scandals – and Political Scandals – on the Big Screen.”

Shiney Ahuja and Seema Rahmani Sins image: Yash Raj Films.

Image of Ana Claudia Talancón and Gael García Bernal as a priest in The Crime of Father Amaro: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Abbas Kiarostami to film in Italy

In other news, the Tehran Times reports that Abbas Kiarostami (A Taste of Cherry, ABC Africa, The Wind Will Carry Us) is planning to shoot his next film in the summer in Italy. Kiarostami has refused to elaborate on his upcoming project as no contract has been signed.

The Iranian director is currently in Rome promoting his latest (co-)directorial effort, Tickets, an English-language feature that follows various train travelers throughout Europe. The film is divided in three segments, each with its own director: Kiarostami, Britain's Ken Loach, and Italy's Ermanno Olmi.

Tickets opens in Italy on March 25 '05. In the cast: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Blerta Cahani. Martin Compston. Sanije Dedja. Carlo Delle Piane. Silvana De Santis. Aishe Gjuriqi. Gary Maitland. Klajdi Qorraj.

India has (relatively speaking) cheapest movie prices in the world

According to the British publication Screen Digest, in relative terms India has the cheapest movie prices in the world. On average, Indian workers earn only US$0.70 per hour, but since film tickets in that country cost a mere 19 cents it takes Indians only 16 minutes of labor to earn enough money to buy a ticket.

The U.S. comes in second – Americans need to work 24 minutes to buy a movie ticket – while China is in third place: 26 minutes.

The most expensive country for moviegoers – at least among those found on the list – is Bulgaria where workers must toil for 123 minutes in order to buy a movie ticket.

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