Mani Ratnam has confirmed that his forthcoming Hindi film Raavan, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, will not be screening at the 11th India International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, which are being held in Sri Lanka this year.
Ratnam has stated that the reason Raavan will not be screening is that the film has not yet been completed. “The film is not yet ready. We are still working on the background score… It will [not] be ready till June. We are not going, the film is not going…”
However, there is some speculation that the decision not to screen Raavan at the IIFA 2010 has more to do with the current controversy surrounding the choice to stage this year’s awards in Sri Lanka. Though some view the chance to host the awards as Sri Lanka’s opportunity to officially emerge back onto a world platform following 30 years of civil war, reported massacres of Sri Lankan Tamils as recently as last year have hit a raw nerve with Tamil groups and with some members of the southern Indian film industry, who oppose the idea of holding a high profile Indian film event in Sri Lanka.
Several prominent members of the south Indian film fraternity, including actors Rajnikant, Kamal Hassan, Vijay, Ajith and Surya, have reportedly declined to take part in the IIFA. Recently a Tamil community group protested outside IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan’s residence.
Ratnam – who has simultaneously filmed both Hindi and Tamil versions of Raavan, said to be a loose adaptation of the Ramayana, was withholding judgement on the question of whether Indians should boycott the awards, “I don’t know about them individually. I mean, it is not my call to tell them what they should do and not do, individually. But we are not going,” but again stating that the reason he will not be there is that the film is incomplete.