As violent protests against the release of film Padmaavat burgeoned, the Multiplex Association of India said on Wednesday its members would not screen the period drama in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.
Protests against the film were held in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and several towns of Madhya Pradesh. Mumbai police tightened security at the residences of the film’s director Sanjay Leela Bhasali and the lead actor Deepika Padukone. Deepika will get round-the-clock security, an official said.
The decision of the Multiplex Association of India, which represents about 75 per cent of the multiplex owners in the country, came as Rajput outfits and other fringe elements vandalised malls, burned vehicles, and issued open threats to theatre owners and public in their bid to stall its release, claiming distortion of history.
The film is slated for release for Thursday.
“We have decided not to play the film in four states -- Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP and Goa -- as the local management has told us that the law and order situation is not conducive,” Deepak Asher, president of the association, said.
The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed Padmaavat is based on the saga of a 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji.
“We are releasing the film almost everywhere, except few places where there is disturbance. We have 488 screens across India. In a few places the film won’t be shown due to possible threat (of violence),” said Rajender Singh, chief programming officer, Inox.
Singh said the advance booking was very encouraging, but it was difficult to say how many people would actually turn up to see the film.
Nitin Datar, executive committee member, Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, said the organisation has asked its member exhibitors to contact the nearest police stations and seek protection. The association, with members in Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, has over 500 theatres affiliated to it.
In Mumbai, police on Wednesday took over 100 supporters of the Rajput organisation, Karni Sena, into preventive custody as they gathered for protests at various places.
Theatre owners in Gujarat said Padmaavat will not be screened in any of the multiplexes or single-screen theatres in the state till the row over the film is resolved.
Police arrested 50 people in connection with the violence outside malls in Ahmedabad last night. The Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association said the decision not to screen the film was taken in view of Tuesday night’s violence.
As many as 30 motorcycles and scooters, parked outside three multiplexes in Ahmedabad, were set ablaze by protesters, the city’s fire control room said.
In Madhya Pradesh, members of various organisations, including the Karni Sena, staged protests in Indore and some other towns. Protesters blocked the Agra-Mumbai highway in Kishanganj area in Indore district.
Protests were also staged in Bhopal, Sagar, Guna, Bhopal, Ratlam and other towns.
In Ratlam, women members of Rajput Karni Sena submitted a memorandum to the district administration, seeking President Ram Nath Kovind’s intervention to stop the film’s release or permit them to end their lives.
The Pune police arrested at least 15 people who vandalised vehicles near Wadgaon on Mumbai-Bengaluru highway yesterday night during a protest against the film.
In Jammu, fringe group activists targeted a cinema hall breaking window panes and tried to burn a ticketing counter as a protest against the movie.
Some activists and miscreants resorted to breaking of window panes of a cinema hall in Jammu and police intervened, Additional Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Arun Manhas said.
He said the authorities were holding a meeting with activists of Yuva Rajput Sabha and other groups to ensure that there was no law and order problems due to the screening of the movie.