08 Feb 2023

Violence threat overshadows 1st day of 'MNIK'

Mumbai Shah Rukh Khan's "My Name Is Khan" saw a troubled opening day Friday with no morning shows in Mumbai and Ahmedabad and sporadic trouble elsewhere but also long queues for tickets in large parts of India amid heavy security. The union home ministry said it would review security in Maharashtra following violence by the Shiv Sena against Shah Rukh, whose comments in support of Pakistani players being included in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has enraged the Hindu rightwing group and its allies. The meeting, to be chaired by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, will review the situation and send a report to the state government on what precautions need to be taken, a home ministry official told IANS. The much-discussed film, which tells the story of Rizwan Khan coping with events in post 9/11 America, opened to trepidation with the 63 scheduled theatres in Mumbai shying away from exhibiting the film following protests by the Shiv Sena. But by noon some of the multiplexes started screening the film. The distributors hoped that other theatres would follow suit. Fun Cinemas began their first show at 12 noon while the multiplex Fame is expected to start at 2.30 p.m. There was extra security around the multiplexes in this entertainment capital of India. The no-show in the morning came despite assurance of adequate security for the movie screening by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Home Minister R.R. Patil, Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe and Police Commissioner D. Shivanandhan. In Gujarat's main town of Ahmedabad, the Bajrang Dal and the Mahagujarat Janata Party (MJP) backed the Shiv Sena's protests against Shah Rukh but here too many cinemas started screening the film after noon. Reports came in from various districts of the state as well of activists tearing down posters of the film. In Vapi, Shiv Sena activists burnt an effigy of Shah Rukh and in Ahmedabad 10 Bajrang Dal and MJP activists were arrested. The tension spilled over to other states. In Orissa, the screening had to be stopped in two places in Berhampur town where hundreds of Bajrang Dal activists tore down posters of the film and burnt Shah Rukh effigies. Some Bajrang Dal workers were arrested in Bhubaneswar while going to a movie hall. In the Goa capital Panaji, 21 Shiv Sena workers were arrested for staging protests outside the Inox multiplex. There were some protests in Madhya Pradesh too. While the Shiv Sena's attempts to disrupt screenings in Bhopal were futile with heavy police presence, the movie was released amid minor protests elsewhere in the state, said the Madhya Pradesh Cinema Exhibitors Association. The release was delayed at two theatres in Gwalior and Jabalpur, said Association Secretary Aziz Bhai. In Kolkata, enthusiastic crowded packed into cinemas screening the Shah Rukh-Kajol starrer. Angry fans also burnt effigies of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in several parts of the city as cine buffs queued up outside ticket counters on the opening day. And in New Delhi, where a cinema hall that had been vandalised just a few hours before it was scheduled to start screening the film, sold 80 percent of the tickets for the first show. "The first show at 10.15 a.m. got about 80 percent occupancy which is very decent. The vandalism has not affected our bookings and there is no problem in the Janakpuri hall," Jayendra Banerji, vice president (operations) of Satyam Cineplexes, told IANS.