Bollywood boycotts Australia over attacks

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A leading Bollywood union said on Friday it would not shoot any films in Australia until the government takes action against people behind a series of violent assaults on Indian students there.

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan speaks during a news conference for his forthcoming movie "Rann" at an art gallery in New Delhi in this May 6, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur/Files

The attacks, which Indian media have called race-based, caused some diplomatic discomfort between the two countries and sparked angry protests in India. Australia’s government condemned the attacks but said racism was not behind them.

Australia is a hot destination for Indian film-makers with about a dozen films shot there every year. Two of last year’s biggest hits, “Bachna Ae Haseeno” and “Singh is Kinng”, were shot in Australia.

“We bring them (Australian government) so much revenue and yet they attack our students,” Dinesh Chaturvedi, head of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), told Reuters.

“We will not work in Australia, unless their government brings the perpetrators to justice.”

The federation has 45,000 members, including actors and engineers working in Mumbai’s huge movie business.

The boycott comes after four Indian students were attacked with a screwdriver by a gang at a Melbourne party last month.

Another Indian student was attacked in what appeared to be a robbery, and there were three other attacks in early May, including two on Indian taxi drivers.

Following the attacks, India’s top actor, Amitabh Bachchan, turned down an honorary doctorate from an Australian university, saying his conscience did not allow him to accept the honour.

Around 93,000 of the 430,000 foreign students in Australia are Indians, up from around 30,000 only a few years ago.