Articles & Notes — September 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Hollywood producer concerned about gang rape incidents in India

ashok-amritrajVeteran Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj, born and raised in India, said that he would not feel comfortable sending his daughter to his native country because of the violence against women that has rocked international headlines of late.

In an interview with TheWrap on the occasion of the publication of his biography, “Advantage Hollywood,” and ahead of the Toronto Film Festival, where his movie, “Life of Crime,” will close the festival, Amritraj was asked if he would feel comfortable sending his daughter, a college freshman, to India.

“Not alone, I wouldn’t,” he said. “She’s also grown up here in a different atmosphere. For her to go around Delhi or Bombay, I would worry.”

Multiple incidents of gang rape have roiled India in the past year, including that of a young medical student on a bus, and a foreign tourist in March.

An American woman was gang-raped in May; more recently, a photojournalist on assignment in Mumbai was gang raped. Under pressure, the Indian government passed tougher laws against sexual assault. The verdict in the trial against four men accused of gang raping the woman on the bus is expected next week.

Amritraj, who travels frequently to India, said he was disturbed by the economic and social situation in his native country.

“We’re at a crossroads right now,” he told TheWrap, noting that the coming election next year in India will be critical. “A decade of incredible growth is stalled at the moment. The currency’s taken an incredible beating. A lot of concern about the economy has sent foreign money running for the hills.”

“There’s this big concern about how the laws are working in India. There’s a lot of cleaning house to be done to have the next decade of growth. And the incidents of gang rape have given the country a poor international image” he noted.

“There has always been this dichotomy in India where mothers and sisters are held as great figures and the centerpiece of a family,” he said.

“But there has always been this side, especially in villages, of rapes. What is strange today is there is more of this in big cities that didn’t happen when I was growing up.”

It should be noted that Jean Claude Van Damme will be in India for the global launch of Ashok Amritraj’s autobiography at CII Big Picture Summit, Confederation of Indian Industry’s flagship conference for Media and Entertainment industry to be held on 13 – 14 September 2013 at New Delhi.

Amritraj produced Van Damme’s Double Impact, which catapulted him to an A list box office star. The film was a breakthrough for Amritraj as well and he went on to become a major force in Hollywood.

“I am launching my autobiography globally and he (Van Damme) is an old friend. Rather than inviting my other friends like Sylvester Stallone, it felt appropriate to invite Jean-Claude, whose Double Impact (1991) was where my success began. He’s the right guy. I’m happy he agreed to come,” Amritraj said previously.

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