Agnes of God Staged in Mumbai, Freedom of Speech Wins

Mumbai: After doubts over whether Agnes of God will be staged in Mumbai or not, the show opened to a packed house at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in the city on Monday.

After the performance, the audience gave the cast and crew a standing ovation. An emotional Kaizaad Kotwal thanked Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC for their support.

"Today freedom of speech has won but there is no guarantee that it will win every time. We will keep fighting to protect the values we have stood for all out lives," Mr Kotwal, the director told NDTV.

Agnes of God finally premiered after its first show at the Sophia College Auditorium was cancelled after protests from catholic groups.

On Monday morning, a delegation from Christian groups met Minority Affairs Minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Khadse. But the government has refused to interfere for now.

"The censor board has cleared the play and they have not imposed any cuts. They should appeal to the censor board or go to court," Mr Khadse said.

The play, an adaptation of a 1982 Broadway production by Pielmeier, is the story of a novice nun who gives birth and insists that the child was the result of a virgin conception. Christian Groups in Mumbai have taken offence saying their religious sentiments have been as nuns have been insulted in the play.

Joseph Sodder, Advocate for the Christian groups, says, "The advertisement has the word immaculate conception and that has affected my religious sentiments."

Actor Shabana Azmi, who watched the play, said "These days there is a tendency among all religions to easily get hurt. We need to grow up. The audience has answered the narrow minded people who want to hold artists to ransom."

The play has been performed across the world and even been made into an Oscar nominated film. The producers say they cannot change the script as they are bound by copyright laws. Along with the audience, personnel from the Mumbai police were stationed inside and outside the auditorium to look out for mischief makers.
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