A horse had a head-on collision and died during the shooting of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil epic historical action-drama Ponniyin Selvan in Hyderabad.
Following a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India that a horse was involved in a head-on collision and died during the shooting of the film, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) called on the Hyderabad District Collector and the Telangana State Animal Welfare Board to conduct an enquiry into the death.
The AWBI is the prescribed authority under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, which authorises the use of animals in films. The AWBI also asked officials to ensure that the culprits receive “exemplary punishment” so that such crimes do not happen in the future. The Abdullapurmet police of Rachakonda also registered a case against the management of Madras Talkies and the owner of the horse under Section 11 of the PCA Act, 1960, and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The owner is reported to have allowed producers of the film to keep using horses which were tired and dehydrated.
“In the age of computer-generated imagery (CGI), production companies have no excuse for forcing exhausted horses to play at war until one of them drops dead,” PETA India Chief Advocacy Officer Khushboo Gupta said.
Compassionate, forward-thinking filmmakers would never dream of hauling sensitive animals to a chaotic movie set and forcing them to ‘act’, she said. “We are calling on director Mani Ratnam to cut the cruelty and switch to modern and humane CGI and other visual-effects technology,” Ms. Gupta said.
Further, PETA India urged film, advertising, television, and digital content producers to use CGI, visual effects, and animatronics instead of forcing live animals to perform. “Animals used in the entertainment industry are typically separated from their mothers as infants, beaten or starved during training, forced to perform confusing or dangerous tricks, chained or kept in intense confinement when not used, and subjected to the chaos of film and television studios,” they said.
It is also offering a reward of ₹ 25,000 for a video or photograph of the incident in which the horse died, which may help lead to the culprits’ arrests. Such evidence should be shared with PETA India at Info@petaindia.org.