Indian Christians seek "Angels" ban

Actor Tom Hanks attends a ceremony where former member of the Beatles George Harrison was honored posthumously with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles April 14, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

NEW DELHI (Hollywood Reporter) - The Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the country’s top Catholic body, is calling for a ban of the Tom Hanks-starring “Angels & Demons.” The prequel to “The Da Vinci Code” is scheduled for worldwide release May 15.

This film could seriously hurt religious sentiments,” CBCI spokesperson Father Babu Joseph was quoted as saying in media reports over the weekend. “Christianity is not understood by the majority of people in India yet, and many non-Christians may mistake the content as the truth,” he said.

CBCI secretary general Stanislaus Fernandes reportedly has written to the chair of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asking to stop the film’s release. Mumbai-based Sony Pictures Releasing India (SPRI) will distribute the film in India.

“At the moment, SPRI has not yet submitted the film for a censor certificate, and the CBFC will only come in the picture once we view the film,” CBFC regional officer Vinayak Azaad told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.

“We are still waiting for a print to arrive from our head offices, after which we will submit the film to the CBFC,” Sony Pictures Releasing India managing director Kersy Daruwala said Monday.

Indian Christian groups also protested “The Da Vinci Code” in 2006, but the matter was resolved when the CBFC asked SPRI to add a disclaimer stating that the film was a work of fiction.

Azaad did not comment when asked whether a similar situation could be repeated with “Angels.” “We really have to see the film to take any decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, other Christian groups have supported the ban against “Angels.”

“We are calling on Christians to adhere to the principle of not supporting anything that goes against our faith. We are asking people not to watch it,” said Father Anthony Charanghat, a spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese in Mumbai.