By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: While our Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks sincerely of opening up doors between India and the rest of the world by making the process of accessibility easier, one still hears of visa issues haunting potential visitors to our country.
The latest to be hit by the visa obstacle is none other than the distinguished American actor Martin Sheen who was supposed to be in India in December but is now unable to keep his appointment.
Sheen plays Warren Anderson in the film Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain about India’s worst chemical disaster which was caused by America’s Union Carbide Corporation.
Anderson was the man in charge of Union Carbide on that fateful night in December 1984 when 3,000 people Bhopal lost their lives.
Sheen was keen to be in Bhopal for the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy in December.
Alas, his plan was foiled by the visa issue.
Speaking from him home in New York Martin says, “I was hoping to be in Bhopal for the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy. But I couldn’t. Because it takes a while to get a travel visa.”
The brilliant actor hopes to be in India soon, though now he is committed elsewhere for the next couple of months. “I’ve another job here to attend to which prevents me from going to India. In December I am committed to do a play in New York for five weeks.But I hope to return soon.”
Martin says he is deeply empathetic to India and its culture. “Your country people and culture had a profound affect on me in a deeply personal way. I am very comfortable in your culture. India is a nation of families. In your country people are not committed to be on their own.”
He was in India on two other occasions. “I was in India in 1981 for a role in Gandhi for about six weeks with my son Emilio.But I was only in Delhi and Porbundar. I did visit Agra for the Taj Mahal.”
Amazingly, Martin has lent his voice to a documentary on Kerala. “Yes, that’s right.I did the voiceover for a documentary on Kerala. But I couldn’t see Kerala. The closest I got it was Hyderabad where we shot for Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain.”