CHAIRMAN CLARIFIES ABOUT DOONGERWADI FEASTING & FILM SHOOTING
The Khareghat Colony “film shooting” is over but the guns are still firing away.
So many different versions are circulating all over since I left for London on the night of Tuesday 4th October, 2011, and since the buck stops with me, I feel it incumbent upon me to explain the episode to the community. At the Board Meeting of 18th instant, the need and draft of this said letter has been approved by all Trustees present to avoid later conflicting claims thereon.
As per BPP practice, the administration had given permission to allow a film shoot at Khareghat colony for 5 days and nights, from 6th Oct. to 10th Oct 2011 as per the norms followed by BPP for film shoots that have taken place in our baugs in the past. Probably due to the survey undertaken by the movie makers unit, the residents of Khareghat colony were quite agitated and informed me that 1 or 2 days shooting was enough, but 5 days and nights would be too much. I instructed my staff to call the movie maker, and requested him to restrict the shooting sequence to maximum 2 days.
The movie makers met me, and informed me that their story byline was of a young Parsi family who wanted to make their teenage son into a world class cricketer, and the shooting sequence required was for 5 days. Since I thought that the concept was in the interest of the community, and for a change the community was being shown in good light, I agreed to their request and arranged a meeting with the residents of Khareghat colony at 9:30 am on Sunday 25th September 2011, prior to the Doongerwadi Committee meeting scheduled at 11 am on the same day.
Many residents of Khareghat colony were present at the said meeting and requested that 5 day shoot should not be permitted. When I explained the concept of the movie, most of them found it acceptable but they requested that their huge multi-utility vans should not be permitted to be parked near their buildings as they invariably create parking problems and are a hindrance to vehicle movement. I explained to them that the trust would earn about Rs. 5 lakh donation and even the Khareghat Colony association would earn Rs. 1 lakh from the shoots and I requested for their co-operation. Some of the residents wanted the BPP to spend a part of this funds for cutting grass and making parking facilities of roads between the buildings. I agreed that a part of the funds received would be used for such facility.
Since some of the residents were still vociferous about not allowing parking of heavy duty vans in the colony premises, I conceded to their request and informed them that I would depute my senior staff to the site for 5 days so as to be able to control any inconvenience caused to the residents and would instruct the movie makers not to park their vans in the colony premises but instead park it in the ‘Bogda’ behind Khareghat colony, which is Doongerwadi land.
Since many people including non-Parsis park their cars at Doongerwadi, I did not think that I was in any way disturbing the sanctity of Doongerwadi by granting such parking permission. It must be noted, however, that the production house was only granted permission to park their vehicles in this area, and not for any other purpose, making the allegation that the BPP was out to ‘commercialise’ the Doongerwadi quite baseless.
Thereafter at the board meeting of 25th September 2011, I informed the trustees present that in view of the request of the Khareghat colony residents, the film crew would park their vans at the Bogda entrance of Doongerwadi leading to Khareghat colony, and also informed that part of the funds should be utilized for developing parking facilities in the Colony. At that time ALL trustees present agreed to the proposition and in fact trustee Mr. Khojestee Mistree agreed to the suggestion of Mr. Muncherji Cama to the administration that, in view of so many facilities being given the donation should be Rs. 3 lakhs a day instead of the present Rs. 1 lakh a day.
Thus the trustees present at that meeting were well aware of the parking permission being given to the film crew for their vans. It is therefore incongruous how Mr. Karl Sahukar one of the main campaigners for WAPIZ, could circulate mails that he had talked to some of the trustees who confirmed that NONE of them had been informed by Mr. Mehta of what was discussed in the course of his meeting with the residents of Khareghat Colony and this matter was not tabled at the BPP board meeting, and further that Mr. Dinshaw Mehta alone, had given permission to the film crew on his own to set up their vans in the Doongerwadi Bogda area adjoining Khareghat Colony, and further goes on to re-iterate that the BPP trustees whom he spoke to confirm that they were not aware of this decision.
From the above, it will be evident that Mr. Karl Sahukar is either deliberately lying or talked only to trustees who were not present when the matter was discussed, approved and finalized in the board, without any objection from any of the trustees present at that time.
The filming which started on 6th instant was peaceful and uneventful. On Friday the 7th October when the film shooting was going on at Khareghat Colony, our venerable Vada Dastoorji Sahib Khurshedji Dastoor of our Pak Iranshah at Udvada was attracted by the halogen lights and witnessed the film crew camped at the sites with vanity buses and other vehicles parked there, and a huge shamiana was erected under which a buffet dinner table was laid out, and a makeshift kitchen was actively making parathas and tea, and Zoroastrians many from Khareghat Colony along with non-Zoroastrians were dining at the site. Vada Dastoorji Khurshedji was rightly distraught at the dinner fiesta going on and called for assistance from Mr. Gustad Irani and Arzan Ghadialy at about 11 pm to call Trustee Mr. Khojeste Mistry who resides in Khareghat Colony, but unfortunately he was unavailable. Dastoorji thereafter called me in London around 11.30 pm India time.
I informed him that the administration had given written permission for a 5 day shooting schedule at Khareghat Colony and that I had given verbal permission only for parking of vehicles of the filming crew and not for holding buffet dinner or setting up temporary shamianas. I told him that since only parking permission had been given, the shamiana, the make shift kitchen and dinner table facilities must be removed as we were not aware that this place would be used for dining. When the film crew were told about the sanctity of Doongerwadi, they very readily co-operated and removed the same, without any hassles. I had sent my son Viraf to ensure that everything went peaceful there. Subsequently at about 12.30 am India time, I phoned up my CEO Mr. Mehli Colah, that the episode had been resolved and there was no further need for anybody to intervene and to inform Khojeste of the same. I was further informed at about 1 am India time that trustee Mr. Muncherji Cama also visited Doongerwadi and the filming site at Khareghat Colony and he phoned me the next day and informed me that my brother Noshir Mehta and himself had gone around the site and found everything in order.
The filming sequence thereafter continued for 2 more days, in a much more peaceful and decorous way. It was therefore surprising to read the WAPIZ page about commercialization of our Doongerwadi lands. The shooting took place at Khareghat Colony which was the site which the film crew wanted for their episode, and NOT Doongerwadi.
Wapiz page has also carried an article that the ECO-Park is a part of Godrej Baug and NOT Doongerwadi lands. I would like to re-iterate that every resident of Godrej Baug is well aware that ECO-Park is on Doongerwadi lands and the left hand side of the dividing road is Godrej Baug. This may be confirmed from Mr. Maneck Engineer, architect of Godrej Baug.
This in short is the genesis of the film shooting drama at Khareghat Colony, reverberating on Doongerwadi lands. The matter is now hopefully a closed chapter.
Published in the Mumbai Samachar.