Sudhir Mishra cancels ‘Aur Devdas’ shoot in Delhi over women’s safety

New Delhi,Gargi Gupta(dna): Delhi’s reputation as a city unsafe for women was reinforced again on Monday when film director Sudhir Mishra packed up the sets of Aur Devdas on the outskirts of Delhi, tweeting: “Today my shoot was cancelled because the line producer could not guarantee the safety of the unit. I say this without bias. I really love Delhi but shooting on its outskirts is really scary and I was worried about the women in the unit.

Speaking to dna, Mishra said, “It wasn’t what happened so much as what could have happened. These were the outskirts of Delhi — the macho, small town areas. We had cancelled a day’s shooting because of the unruly crowds. So when the line manager told us again that there was tension and we had to cancel shooting I decided to do it in Mumbai. There is just a day-and-a-half’s shooting left. And these are evening-night scenes, so I could do it in Mumbai.”

According to Richa Chaddha, the lead actress of the film, Mishra’s unit had been shooting outdoor scenes near SRS Chowk in Faridabad, Haryana for about a week. They had come to Delhi from Lucknow where they had wrapped up the initial shooting schedules for the film which has been described by its Wikipedia page as a “Bollywood erotic drama”.

“The locals were very rowdy,” said Chaddha, who had left the film set earlier after having an accident during the shoot. “Nothing happened to me, but women in the team did not feel that it was safe to continue working. There were groups of people who had surrounded the shooting, were harassing us and using abusive language.”Chaddha said no cases had been registered with the police against the locals.

The national capital had always had a reputation for being unsafe for women but the December 16, 2012 brutal gang rape made it infamous as the “rape capital” of India. Despite all the adverse publicity that the city then attracted, the number of rapes or cases of molestation have not declined but have actually gone up.

In the last few years, Delhi has emerged as an attractive location for Bollywood films. Among recent films that have been shot here are Bang Bang, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tamashaa, Fitoor. Not all experiences are as bad. Just a day ago, on February 22, the actress Neha Dhupia tweeted a very different sentiment of shooting for a film called Moh Maaya Money. “So wonderful shooting in #delhi ,every nook n corner ,the little streets n turns remind me of something or someone !

Mishra himself has shot several of his films – Yeh Saali Zindagi and Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi in the capital. “But those were Lutyen’s Delhi, the main urban areas,” said Mishra.