The Maharashtra government on Monday declined to stall staging of the play ‘Agnes of God’, which tells the story of a nun who delivers a still-born child, as demanded by the church on the ground that it hurts the sentiments of the Christian community.
State Minority Minister Eknath Khadse, who met the play's director and the church forum representative, ruled out banning the play since it has a certification, but agreed to see if there is anything that hurts religious sentiments. The play will open at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai on Monday night.
Joseph Dias, secretary general of Catholic Secular Forum and play director Kaizad Kotwal met Khadse on Monday morning. Dias had earlier written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking ban on the play, but had made it clear that the outfit would not resort to any open demonstration before the theatre to stall the staging.
Ruling out the government intervention, Khadse said the play will be videographed to see if it has anything that wounds religious sentiments. "If any portion is objectionable, appropriate decision will be taken after consultation with both sides," he said.
Khadse also said that the Catholic body was free to move the high court seeking a ban on the play, an adaptation of American playwright John Pielmeier's drama. According to Khadse, both sides were satisfied after the talks.
The Catholic Secular Forum has lodged a protest against 'Agnes of God' but said it would not obstruct its performance. "There is no question of halting that performance, as it is an invitation only event at NCPA," Dias had said.
Also, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, a body of Catholic bishops in the country, has written to Union home ministry seeking a ban on the play holding that it was "misrepresentation of the religious belief of the Christian community".
"The reason why the Catholic Church is against such a play is that it is the wrongful portrayal of the character of lakhs of our clergy, who are committed to a life of celibacy," the CBCI letter said.
Image: The play, an adaptation of American playwright John Pielmeier's drama, will open at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai on Monday night.