The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Politicos shoot for police

New Delhi, Dec. 19: Police fight villains, not join them, as Bollywood often shows. And the constabulary is not made up of foolish policemen who bungle every job they take up. They are the ones who do the groundwork; they take the first shot or spend nights patrolling the roads.

Often shown up in poor light ' as buffoons or villains ' on celluloid, the police won unexpected support recently from politicians, who have a similar complaint themselves. The latter group is usually depicted by Bollywood as devious and corrupt, not averse to getting rivals bumped off or inciting riots to wrest power or hold on to it.

Members of the Union home ministry's consultative committee, comprising MPs from both Houses, had discussed measures to keep the police force fighting fit. But they did not stop at discussing the modernisation plan that will cost the exchequer Rs 1,600 crore and the training programmes that will help the constabulary shed its colonial hangover.

The panel members demanded that Bollywood start projecting the 'right' image. If persuasion does not work, it was suggested that the censor board could step in. The MPs fear that if the current trend continues, the public will be scared to enter a police station. 'That will be a very sad day,' said one lawmaker.

'Look at the manner in which police are depicted in films. Constables are projected as the ones who bungle, (as) clowns and are ridiculed,' said an MP known for his administrative skills as he called for a review of censorship rules.

A lawmaker at the meeting said many MPs supported the move, though they were largely cautious about seeking censor intervention.

Home minister Shivraj Patil did not want to turn to the censors but is ready to appeal to the film industry to project the 'correct' image of policemen.

ADMK lawmaker K. Malaisamy suggested the minister could call a meeting of film producers to make the appeal. He said Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa had resolved the image problem in similar fashion. But the chief minister combined her appeal with a slew of concessions to the film industry before asking producers to perform their 'social obligation'.

At least one MP spoke up for the film industry. Maulana Obaidullah Khan could not understand why his colleagues were so worried when, as he put it, the police were being shown up for what they are.

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