"We want Osho ashram to be a heritage site"  

Actor, politician, sanyasi... Vinod Khanna can switch roles with practised ease. For a brief while on Wednesday, he was " Swami Vinod Bharti" ( dressed in maroon robes) during a visit to Osho's birthplace. And on Thursday, he was back being Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture. Excerpts from an interview by Kumar Shakti Shekhar:

What's being done about Acharya Rajnish's ashram in Pune, better known as the Osho Commune?

Two foreigners, an Englishman and Canadian, have taken over the ashram and have driven out the inner circle of 21 members appointed by Osho. We fear they will bring down the Buddha Hall. We want the ashram to be a piligrimage and heritage site.
Secondly, we will be cautious about the copyrights on Osho's discourses, which are recorded in books, and audio and video cassettes. It is shameful that their copyrights are with foreigners. Anyone wanting to publish them has to pay royaity in dollars. Osho's books are like Bible and Gita to us.

Do you plan to develop Osho's birthplace at Kuchwada in Madhya Pradesh into a piligrim centre?

I am planning to set up an archive of Osho in Kuchwada. The sanyasis have bought the property and started restoration work of the house in which Osho was born on December 11, 1931. Osho's Japanese disciiiples have constructed an ashram which can house about 400 people.

What is on the tourism front?

We will develop 36 piligrimage circuits all over India in the next six years, with six circuits each year.Each circuit will involve a few states. For instance, the Buddhist circuit will inciude Bodh Gaya, Sarnatha and Sanchi in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh respectively.

How does it feel being a politician?

I am enjoying it and am very comfortable. This is probably because I am a satisfied man.

Why aren't Hindi films doing well at the box office?

Bad scriipts and piracy. Piracy has killed films. Even before the films are released, their VCDs are out in the market. I have recommended to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to make piracy a non-bailable offence.

What about underworld funding of films?

Since the film sector has been recognised as an industry, banks are financing viable projects. So far, banks have financed Rs 300 crore in film-making. We are looking for cheaper interest rates.

( Hindustan Times, 2002/Dec )


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