By Dev Kotak and Parth Khatau. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav
As city theatres releasing Bollywood Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, Mumbai continued to remain normal and paid no heed whatsoever to the empty threats and intimidation or efforts to stall the screening and release today of the most controversial movie in the last few months. There was no violence or cancellation of shows reported in any part of the city. While cinema hall owners, staff, management and owners have not reported any incidents of violence, cinema halls saw the heavy deployment of the local police and a few columns of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) too as a precautionary measure.
Enthusiastic moviegoers and patrons were more than willing to go and catch the much spoken about historic movie on the first day, but showed reluctance in doing so, say cinema hall owners and staff.
“There is police not only outside the theatre and on the premises, but also inside the hall. We have deployed private security too to prevent any untoward incident. There are four bouncers besides the cops. We have not had any problem yet, but want to ensure tight measures,” said Mahendra, Manager, New Excelsior Mukta Cinema.
With a long Republic Day weekend here, Bollywood lovers will throng to watch the movie. The movie is yet to receive a rousing response owing to the first day release on a Thursday. The amount of publicity this movie garnered has prompted a lot of people to go and watch it. But they even hesitated fearing violence by certain fringe groups that are believed to have objected to it’s relase and pushing for a ban allegedly accusing the maker of the film of distorting history and misrepresenting facts, that was deemed to be derogatory.
Ticket sales and box office bookings opened to a lukewarm response, but a spike in ticket sales seemed on the cards.
Mahendra says, “Even though there is a sense of fear among the people who call up our office and check if everything is okay, we have sold over 1,000 tickets.”
Chief of Security at Inox, Nariman Point, Ashish said, “All the shows have been going full since afternoon, but the weekend will see a surge in ticket sales. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the movie, the cops have been stationed inside too so that they can keep a check in case miscreants try to disrupt the screening. We are ready to beef up security if required.”
Outside Sterling theatre, two police vans were stationed, but even around other theatres hardly any incidents of violence or vandalism were reported. Most of the police officials on duty outside cinema halls said it was peaceful and nothing of serious nature had taken place. While some said that they were on duty till end of the day, some cops said that they were asked to be stationed outside the theatres till a week or until the weekend.
The amount of controversy surrounding the multi-starrer movie prompted an angry response from certain sections of the audience, who felt changing the name or fighting over history and stopping it’s release was totally uncalled for as fear continues to assail them who are compelled to think whether it would be safe to go for the movie or postpone the idea.
“The name change saga is totally irrelevant. It’s so menial and petty. There are more significant issues that need focus. I was personally scared that groups might resort to violence,” said Dhruv Nimbalkar, student at KC College, who had come to watch the movie at Metro Cinema.
“There is no problem now. We haven’t received any threats or intimidation letters from anyone. Additional guards have been deployed along with the local police. Our security is working parallely with police. There was some fear and nervousness yesterday though,” said Kiran Thorat, Admin and Security manager.
Security forces on alert:
After almost two months of protests and violent attacks over the Padmaavat controversy, the movie successfully was released yesterday made a quiet show. However, according to official sources, the box office collection did not receive many viewers, mainly due to the fear of any wrongdoings, violent attacks, and protests by the Rajasthani Karni Sena.
Malls in Thane experienced high security forces as well. A police van was standing outside Viviana mall and around 20 to 25 police officials were around, guarding the mall. Apart from that, police personnel were inside the theatres as well guarding the people watching the movie. Same was the case with Kourm and Eternity Mall, Thane.