Hollywood stars Martin Sheen and Mischa Barton’s upcoming film, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain, based on the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, has come under severe attack from NGOs and campaigners for several reasons.
Sheen plays Warren Anderson, the then chief executive of Union Carbide, while Barton plays Eva Gascon, a journalist of the magazine, Paris Match. Although the film has been kept under wraps, reports suggest it ends with an imagined present-day meeting between an unrepentant Anderson and a remorseful Gascon at the former’s country club in the US.
Director Ravi Kumar was unavailable for a comment. However, Rachna Dhingra of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal says the movie “shows the US-based Union Carbide Corporation management as pure saints”. She adds that they have been in constant touch with Sheen. “Initially, Kumar was in touch but once we started raising objections, he vanished. Sheen has expressed solidarity with us over the issue.”
“Kumar’s film shows Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary Union Carbide India Limited was responsible for the tragedy while Anderson goes scot-free. Several respected people such as senior journalist Raj Kumar Keswani are depicted in an objectionable manner,” says Dhingra, adding they want the makers to re-shoot a small portion. “They haven’t responded yet. If our concerns aren’t dealt with, we won’t let the film open.”
Satinath Sarangi, managing trustee of Bhopal-based Sambhavna Clinic, which has been helping the victims over the years, says, “Ravi Kumar was constantly in touch with us initially but he suddenly stopped communicating. We are going to shoot off letters to all cast members including Barton and Sheen, who will pay heed to our objections because he has been involved with several causes around the world.” Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who plays Leela in the film, says, “I am an Indian so I will never be part of any film that’s insensitive to such a subject.”
The film is likely to release later this year.