German church leaders angered at Bollywood

15th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 March 2007, Cologne, Germany (dpa) - Organ music and candlelight took a back seat to Indian pop songs and flashing disco lights as Bollywood stars took over a Catholic Church in the German city of Cologne. An 85-strong crew of actors, technicians and dancers descended on the 100-year-old church of St. Agnes which is providing the backdrop for an Indian film about love and music. But church leaders are not amused that the house of prayer is being transformed to a film set, surrounded by catering vehicles

15 March 2007

Cologne, Germany (dpa) - Organ music and candlelight took a back seat to Indian pop songs and flashing disco lights as Bollywood stars took over a Catholic Church in the German city of Cologne.

An 85-strong crew of actors, technicians and dancers descended on the 100-year-old church of St. Agnes which is providing the backdrop for an Indian film about love and music.

But church leaders are not amused that the house of prayer is being transformed to a film set, surrounded by catering vehicles, security personnel and portable toilets.

"We were not consulted. If we had been we would never have given our permission," said Christoph Heckeley, a spokesman for the diocese of Cologne. St Agnes is the city's second biggest church.

All the interior fixtures were removed within the space of two days and a huge stage erected for Himesh Reshammiya to sing and dance for a new Bollywood production.

The pop superstar plays the leading role in "Aap Ka Suroor" or The True Love Story, a semi-autobiographical musical combining elements of thrillers and action films.

Due to appear in cinemas and television this summer, 56 days have been allotted to make the film, with 80 to 90 per cent of the action shot on location in Germany.

"It is the biggest Bollywood production that has ever taken place in this country," said Andreas Etzrodt, head of the German production company of the same name.

Before the cameras started rolling in St Agnes, hundreds of metres of cables were laid out, dozens of spotlights were tested and huge loudspeakers placed in strategic positions.

The altar was covered up and the benches were piled in a heap in the corner in front of a confession box.

In front of a marble madonna statue, a drum kit was ready to burst into life as dozens of dances prepared to take the stage cheered by 800 extras playing the role of fans.

The Cologne diocese believes the priest in charge of the church was wrong to allow it to be used as the setting for a rock concert in the film.

The priest justified his decision, saying the church needed the money.

"That's no way to solve a financial problem," said Heckeley. "In the eyes of Catholics, a church is not some function room but a house of God that is removed from the ways of the world."

The dispute highlights a problem faced by Germany's Christian churches, which are suffering from declining membership and a reduction in income from church taxes. As a result, some churches have been closed and others sold.

But that is not a concern of the Indian film industry, whose movies are enjoying a growing popularity in Germany.

"I love their films, they have a lot of fantasy, they're oriental and there's a lot of music and dancing," said Nina Mazloumi, a German dancer from Hamburg who was given a role in The True Love Story.

Just to make sure that religious sensitivities were not offended too much, paper signs were placed along the walls, reading "No Smoking Area."

DPA

Subject: German news

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