Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MUMBAI: Director Ashutosh Gowarikar’s historical flick, Jodha Akbar, is in the eye of a storm. It has been alleged that animals and exotic birds, used in the shoot, had been badly mishandled, resulting in their death.

People in Defence of Animals (PIDA), a city-based NGO, has decided to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the producers of the film to halt its February 15 release. “Several exotic birds, as well as other animals, used in the film died due to mishandling. The producers had been very careless about the well being of the animals,” said Karim Khan, founder of PIDA. The PIL is likely to be filed on Wednesday.

“What is shocking is the fact that the birds came from a Pune-based supplier, who is not even registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), Chennai,” said Khan. The birds were supplied by Vivian Sausman, a Pune-based international zoo consultant and an animal exchange co-ordinator.

“The producers had taken pre-shoot permission for using animals in the film. But they have not reported the death of any animal during or after the shooting schedule,” said AWBI secretary Raj Sekhar.

It is mandatory for an animal supplier to be registered with the AWBI. But this rule came into existence in December 2007. “As the shooting of Jodha Akbar began much earlier, and the permissions were given before December 2007, the supply can not be termed illegal. But animals and birds dying during a film shoot is definitely a serious matter. The board will initiate legal action against the producers under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” said Sekhar.

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