from Sunday Herald, 07 December 2014, from Bhopal
Director Ravi Kumar is worried about facing legal action from Dow, the US chemical company that took over Union Carbide, the managers of the pesticide plant that leaked 30 years ago and killed 25,000 people in Bhopal.
Kumar did not disclose the value of the libel insurance, though it was “a significant amount”, he said. “Producers of the film are taking no chances. We feel pressure from a lot of groups.”
Sheen plays the Union Carbide chairman in 1984, Warren Anderson, one of the most hated men in India. A fugitive from Indian justice for decades, Anderson died in Florida on 29 September.
In the film Anderson says that the company had “plausible deniability” on the Bhopal disaster. Sheen has himself lent support to the campaign for justice for the many thousands of survivors who are still suffering.
The film also stars well-known Indian actors including Kal Penn, Mischa Barton, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Rajpal Yadav. It opened in India on 5 December, but has not yet been released in the UK.
The premiere in Bhopal left some of the survivors and activists in the audience in tears. It graphically shows the agonising suffering of people exposed to the leaking gas, a hospital being completely overwhelmed and the mass death toll.
The film follows a poor rickshaw driver, Dilip, as he proudly lands a job at the Union Carbide factory. He soon discovers that managers are ignoring safety standards, but keeps quiet about it so as not to lose his job.
He then decides that he ought to do something and talks to a journalist. But it’s too late to prevent what Indian newspapers have branded the “Bhopal holocaust” from unfolding.