Court ruling delays India film releases

Hollywood films on track despite Bollywood changes

Updated Sept. 21 at 10:56 pm Beijing time

NEW DELHI -- A court verdict due Friday regarding a holy site contested between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Ayodhya has led to Bollywood postponing its releases this weekend.

Eros International confirmed it was postponing its much-awaited romcom “Anjaana Anjanee,” starring top actor Ranbir Kapoor and actress Priyanka Chopra, from September 24 to October 1 competing against sci-fi fantasy “Enthiran – The Robot," considered India's most expensive film ever, starring south Indian superstar Rajnikant and top actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Similarly, another release, “Aakrosh” starring Ajay Devgn and Akshaye Khanna will now release October 9.

But this week's Hollywood releases are on track with Fox Star Studios' “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps” and Disney's “Beauty and the Beast."

The Ayodhya issue revolves around a mosque built during India's Mughal era on a site that is considered the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. The decades-old ownership conflict over the land between Hindu and Muslim groups erupted in 1992 when a political rally turned into a riot that saw over 150,000 protestors destroying the mosque. The incident sparked riots in major cities including Mumbai and Delhi which saw over 1,500 dead.

The communal tensions and killings formed the backdrop to the acclaimed 1995 film “Bombay” by respected south Indian director Mani Ratnam. A series of bomb blasts that hit Mumbai in 1993 following the communal riots inspired 2004's “Black Friday” by director Anurag Kashyap.

The upcoming verdict by the Allahabad high court will expectedly be a major media event with community leaders and politicians already appealing for restraint.

“Audiences may not be able to go watch the film on that day. I hope there is no dispute and the decision is favorable to all,” “Anjaana” lead Ranbir Kapoor said in a promotional press conference.

“It’s a huge judgment which has relevance for the entire nation, so considering the same the (film's release) date has been shifted," an Eros spokesperson added.