Priyanka Chopra recently screened her Sikkimese film Pahuna: The Little Visitors at Toronto International Film Festival 2017. The film received a great response from the audience and Priyanka Chopra continued to promote her film. But, the actress came under fire for her comments about Sikkim as she termed the state troubled with insurgency and troubling situations.
In an interview with ET Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival, Priyanka Chopra said, “This is a Sikkimese film. Sikkim is a small state in the Northeastern India which never had a film industry or anyone who made films from there. And this is the first film ever that’s come out of that region because it’s very troubled with insurgency and troubling situations.”
The moment the interview came out, people slammed Priyanka Chopra for misrepresenting the state on an international platform. However, after receiving a lot of backlash, Priyanka Chopra has apologized to the Minister of Tourism in Sikkim, Ugen T. Gyatso. The minister recently claimed on a news channel that Priyanka Chopra, the director Paakhi A. Tyrewala and the producer of Pahuna have apologized in writing as well as verbally to him. The minister also clarified that Dev Anand’s Jewel Thief was one of the earliest films from Sikkim.
In the letter issued to the ministry that has gone viral on social media, Priyanka Chopra explains about her comments being misunderstood and apologizes for the same. This is what her letter to the tourism ministry reads:
“I’m sorry I have to write to you under these circumstances.. but I needed to clarify my stance in regards to the situation which has arisen due to a comment of mine during an interview for my film Pahuna, which was misunderstood.
As you are aware, I hold the Government and the people of Sikkim in high regard and have in addition to Pahuna been looking to tell more great stories from Sikkim.
From the moment I heard the script of Pahuna, I knew I wanted to share this story with the world. It is important to me because no one else was willing to take a chance on a film like this, that deals with the refugee crises which is an issue that is being dealt with across the world as it is being in Sikkim.. Pahuna is a film that brings a message of hope and positivity.
My comment, made during an interview at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival 2017, where Pahuna made its worldwide debut, was misconstrued. I was talking about the Sikkimese film industry and also the subject of the film, where I mentioned how Sikkim was grappling with the refugee situation caused by insurgencies.. I had meant by the ‘neighbouring countries’ .. I am fully aware that Sikkim is an incredible host nation (sic) to so many refugees and our film shows exactly that through the children’s point of view…
I understand that the statement I made in the interview was open to interpretation. I should have been clearer with my intention. We’ve made a beautiful film that would not have been possible without the support of the government and people of Sikkim. In no way did I intend to offend or hurt anyone’s sentiments and for that I apologise.
I appreciate all the support you have shown me and my team and I wanted to clear the misunderstanding with you directly.”
On Friday, Priyanka Chopra released an official statement to the media in which she, once again, apologized for hurting the sentiments of the people and the Government of Sikkim. Here is the statement:
“It saddens me that a comment I made during a recent interview at TIFF has caused this much pain when that was never the intention at all. I never meant to imply that Sikkim has insurgency. My statement was in context of the film that deals with people who seek refuge after they suffer from conflict. Sikkim is a peaceful, green state with peace loving people. I know that my statements have hurt the sentiments and pride of the people of Sikkim and for that I truly apologise.
I have always taken pride as being someone who is informed about the world but this time, some of the statements made were incorrect and while I should have been better informed about certain facts, I take full responsibility for what I said. I understand now that our film was not the first Sikkimese film to be made, but our aim has always been to provide local talent, both actors and technicians, a global platform to shine. My team and I have had a wonderful experience working in the state and with the local cast and crew and are thankful to the support extended by the Government of Sikkim.
I understand the impact of the statements made and hope that the people and Government of Sikkim find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Pahuna: The Little Visitors is directed by Paakhi A. Tyrewala and was launched as an association between Priyanka Chopra and her mother Madhu Chopra’s production banner Purple Pebble Pictures and Ministry of Tourism Sikkim.