Rahul Dholakia's controversial drama Parzania has been unofficially banned in the state of Gujarat, where cinema owners have opted not to screen the film for fear of a political backlash from the ruling party.

The English-language film, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika, is based on a true incident of the disappearance of the teenaged son of a Parsi family during the riots in Gujarat in 2002.

The film was initially banned in India, and then cleared for release two years ago although no Indian distributor signed on. It finally opened nationwide on Jan 26 after Dholakia decided to release the film himself through his company Serene Pictures Classics.

Opposition political parties, NGOs and the Indian film industry have come out in support of the film.

'Since the owners of multiplexes are unwilling to screen my film, I am trying to release the film in single-screen theatres in Gujarat,' said Dholakia. 'I will be happy if the movie is shown in at least one cinema hall in Gujarat.'

Fanaa , produced by Yashraj Films, faced a similar fate last year when it was banned in Gujarat due to actor Aamir Khan's support of the environmental organisation, Narmada Bachao Andolan.

More recently, Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal faced a two month ban in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. 'The letter from the state government declaring a ban on my film is ambiguous. It does not clearly mention any specific reason for the ban,' said Bhandarkar.

Traffic Signal is based on the lives of street dwellers in Mumbai who live and earn a livelihood around traffic lights.

In a display of solidarity against arbitrary state-wide bans, almost all the Hindi film associations rallied together to protest against the policitisation of cinema. T P Agrawal, president of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association, said at the meeting: 'The association will fight on behalf of individuals'.