Priyanka Chopra may have to screen Pahuna for Sikkim government before film's official release
Priyanka Chopra may have issued an apology for mistakenly referring to the state of Sikkim as 'troubled by insurgency' during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017 — however the furor over her comments is far from dying down.
The actress, who is promoting the Paakhi Tyrewala-directed film Pahuna (which Priyanka is producing) at TIFF 2017, faced a severe social media backlash after her comments during the interview came to light.
People objected to her description of Sikkim as insurgency-hit, and of Pahuna as the 'first film' to come out of the state — neither of which is true.
Priyanka issued an apology to the government of Sikkim, and her mother, Madhu Chopra, also apologised to the Sikkim tourism minister Ugen Gyatso.
However, in a press conference called by the Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Sikkim, on Thursday, it was announced that Priyanka would be required to screen Pahuna before a special committee in the state before the film's release.
According to a report by the Sikkim Chronicle, special secretary IPR Namrata Thapa, secretary Chewang Zangpo and secretary Yasoda Bhandari said that committee would also be formed to draft a policy for filmmaking in Sikkim.
In her apology letter to the Sikkim government, accessed by India Today and other publications, Priyanka said that her comments at TIFF had been misunderstood.
Priyanka's letter stated:
"I'm sorry I have to write to you under these circumstances, but I needed to clarify my stance in regards to the situation which has arisen due to a comment of mine during an interview for my film Pahuna, which was misunderstood. As you are aware, I hold the Government and the people of Sikkim in high regard and have in addition to Pahuna been looking to tell more great stories from Sikkim," she wrote.
Priyanka explained that Pahuna dealt with the refugee crisis that Sikkim was dealing with (as other parts of the world were) and its message was one of hope and positivity. It was in this context that Priyanka said she had made the comment:
"My comment, made during an interview at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival 2017, where Pahuna made its worldwide debut, was misconstrued. I was talking about the... subject of the film, where I mentioned how Sikkim was grappling with the refugee situation caused by insurgencies. I had meant the 'neighbouring countries'."
Her letter ended with: "I am fully aware that Sikkim is an incredible host to so many refugees and our film shows exactly that through the children's point of view... I understand that the statement I made in the interview was open to interpretation. I should have been clearer with my intention. In no way did I intend to offend or hurt anyone's sentiments, and for that I apologise."
Meanwhile, Sikkim MP Prem Das Rai said that Priyanka's 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," Rai was quoted by news agency IANS as saying. "She has expressed regret over it. She is a star in her own right and Sikkim is a star in its own right. We should bury this issue without sensationalising it any further."
Rai further added, "We should not make a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, she made a factually incorrect statement about an Indian state on an international platform, but everybody makes mistakes. It's okay."