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Filmmakers charged with defamation

Comedy angers Catholic youth leader reporter, Thiruvananthapuram

January 24, 2013

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The makers of a comedy about two petty criminals who dress up as Catholic priests will be charged with defamation, a Kerala court ruled yesterday.

Two actors, along with the director, the producer and the screenwriter of the local hit movie "Romans", which was released last week, are all named in the suit, brought by a Catholic youth leader in the Kottayam district of the state.

“The movie has hurt the sentiments of the faithful,” said petitioner Boban T. Thekkel. “There is a limit to freedom of expression. I can’t tolerate such things.”

The story is about two petty criminals who escape from police custody and end up in a village where they are welcomed as priests. 

The men face up to nine years in prison for “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feeling" and other charges. 

The Church is not involved in the case, said Father Mani Puthiyidom, official spokesperson of Changanassery archdiocese. “We don’t want to stir up a controversy over the film. We prefer to ignore it,” he said.

Jomy Thomas, a Catholic who saw the movie, agreed that it is better for the Church to ignore the issue. He pointed out that one of the actors in the movie is a Catholic legislator. 

Director Boban Samuel told he never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings or to portray priests in a derogatory manner.

“It is a comedy thriller,” he said.

The movie was released on January 17 and has been declared a mega hit in the state, earning more than 20 million rupees (US$372,000) so far.

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