Plans for first Bollywood statue in UK are put on hold owing to Covid-19 amid anger from SSR fans

LONDON: Plans to erect a statue of the King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan and his co-star Kajol from ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ)’ in London have been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic and put on ice.
The bronze statue, which would have been the first ever Bollywood statue erected in the UK, was due to be unveiled by the Indian film industry megastars in Leicester Square next spring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their box-office smash-hit.
It would have joined Batman on a roof, Bugs Bunny emerging from the ground and Wonder Woman coming out of a wall, as well as Harry Potter, Paddington and Mr Bean in the Scenes in the Square film trail, an interactive trail of statues featuring some of the world’s best-loved film characters and scenes, which launched in February 2020 and is set to continue until 2023.
The statue was to be positioned outside a cinema in the Square honouring the moment in the movie when Khan’s character Raj and Kajol’s character Simran first cross paths.
A planning application to erect the statue was submitted to Westminster City Council on 8 October but withdrawn on 10 November.
More than 6,000 PIOs signed two petitions opposing the statue expressing anger with the Indian film industry over the circumstances of the death of Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR).
The Heart of London Business Alliance (HLBA), which is funding the trail and submitted the application, told TOI: “There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when creating a Scenes in the Square statue, not least Covid-19 which has delayed our event planning for the statue unveiling. We confirm we will resume our plans at the appropriate time.”
One petition, which garnered just under 2,000 signatures, said there is “insurmountable anger” against the film industry “for not speaking up for justice for the late SSR” and “since news broke of Bollywood being involved in drugs, money laundering and other criminal activities, the anger towards Bollywood has heightened. We do not want statues of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in Leicester Square.”
A second petition by India Voice (UK) has garnered more than 4,000 signatures. On 16 November its petition update said: “We would like to thank each and everyone of you …who independently contacted HBLA by emailing, leaving numerous voicemails and writing to them opposing the planning permission. The outcome was a desired one of the application for the statue installation being withdrawn.”
Comments by the signatories include “Bollywood is destroying our culture”, “Truth needs to surface about the connection behind SSR’s demise and Bollywood” and “What have these people done for the world?”.

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