Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, who has produced a Sikkimese film, came under attack after calling the hill state insurgency-troubled. She has apologised to the Sikkim government, which sought another apology in more “clear-cut terms”.
Netizens on Thursday slammed Priyanka for being “politically illiterate” after she spoke about Sikkim in an interview on the sidelines of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She was discussing “Pahuna: The Little Visitors”, her Sikkimese production which premiered at the gala.
Sikkim Tourism Minister Ugen T. Gyatso termed Priyanka’s statements as “unfortunate”.
“I have received an apology letter. We have to be satisfied with it,” said Gyatso, adding: “She must have thought Sikkim is like other northeastern states. It’s a very peaceful state.”
The state government has sought another letter of apology from the actress.
Sikkim Tourism Secretary C. Zangpo Bhutia told IANS: “We have received an apology note from Priyanka Chopra for her comments, where she has written ‘I tender an apology’. But we are not satisfied. We have asked her to send us another letter in more clear-cut terms.”
Asked what the Sikkim government felt about Priyanka’s comments, he said: “Whatever she said is totally unacceptable. This has tarnished the image of our state. So we asked her to take back her statement and apologise to us. But as we are not satisfied with her first letter. We are waiting for a fresh note from her.”
Priyanka, who now divides her time between the US and India, is yet to issue an official statement.
Sikkim MP Prem Das Rai said her comment was a mistake and there was no need to sensationalise the issue.
“She definitely doesn’t have her facts correct. Sikkim has been an insurgency-free state for three decades but she didn’t know that,” he said. “She is a star in her own right and Sikkim is a star in its own right. We should bury this issue.”
Priyanka’s film “Pahuna…” is about three Nepalese children who get separated from their parents, escape the Maoists in Nepal and flee to Sikkim.
Talking about the movie to ET Canada, Priyanka said: “This is a Sikkimese film. Sikkim is a small state in the northeast of India which never had a film industry or anyone who made films from there. And this is the first film ever that’s come out of that region because it’s very troubled with insurgency and troubling situations.”
This remark was widely slammed.
“Sikkim is one of the most peaceful states, dear Priyanka. We don’t have any insurgency here. Please comment responsibly,” tweeted Santosh Subban from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.
Tawqeer Hussain added: “Celebs like her are ‘politically illiterate’. Earlier, many celebs (didn’t) know the name of the President of India. So don’t expect them to be politically correct.”
Biswatosh Sinha, a scriptwriter from Assam, wrote: “Dear Priyanka Chopra, Sikkim is a peaceful place and Pahuna is not the first film from the region. Plz get the facts right.”
Incidentally, Priyanka is the tourism ambassador of BJP-ruled Assam.
Directed by first-timer Paakhi A. Tyrewala, “Pahuna…” was launched as an association between Priyanka and her mother Madhu Chopra’s banner Purple Pebble Pictures and Sikkim’s Ministry of Tourism.
The National Award-winning actress, a former Miss World, is a known face globally courtesy American television show “Quantico”.