Meet The Girl Who Started Hindu Fire

The girl who started the Hindu fireAfter Hollywood and Bollywood, now it is the turn of Nepal's film industry, affectionately dubbed Kollywood, to face angry action by ruffled Hindu groups.

The Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh (VHM), a pro-Hindu, formerly royalist religious group in Nepal that has close ties with India's Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has trained its sights on a newly released action film, saying it has insulted Hindu religious sentiments.

The VHM, that is also campaigning for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion in Nepal, has filed a complaint with the chief district officer of Kathmandu against the new release "Hifajat" (Custody) directed by Gyanendra Deuja.

The group's feathers have been ruffled by a three-minute song sequence and a brief fight scene in which the heroine wears an outfit that is a cross between a tank top and a bikini, a scarf round her head and a strip of cloth around her waist.

All three are made of the bright yellow coloured cloth worn by Hindu mendicants with "Hare Ram Hare Krishna" and "Om Namoh Shivayo" printed all over in red.

The heroine is Rekha Thapa, famous for doing her own stunts, and voted the best actress in 2009.

Thapa hit international headlines after allegedly ticking off Bollywood villain Shakti Kapoor for misbehaving with her during a shoot and then, more famously, for attending a Maoist public protest where she sang a duet and shook a leg with Maoist chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

Supported in its campaign by two other Hindu organisations, the Dharma Sanskriti Samrakshan Manch and Vishwa Hindu Yuva Sangh, the VHM says it is an insult to religious sentiments to have the holy chants "draped over sensitive parts of a woman's body".

The film was cleared by the censor board.

After the complaint filed last week, police have removed posters of the film from two cinemas in the capital where it was being shown and also halted the screening.

While the administration is moving gingerly due to the volatile situation in the country with the government unlikely to be able to meet a major peace deadline next month, the action however has angered Nepal's blogging community which said religion should not be dragged into such minor issues.

"If writing chants on (the) body is against Hindu sentiments, why don't they talk with (Bollywood actor and Hema Malini's daughter) Esha Deol... about removing (the) Gayatri Mantra tattoo on her back?" an exasperated blogger, Xnepali.com, wanted to know.