While the Supreme Court has cleared the decks for the release of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie, there is uncertainty over whether it would be screened in the three states, as some multiplexes and single-screen cinemas fear the repercussions.
In Gujarat, some multiplexes and single-screen cinemas in Gujarat would not be screening the movie fearing violence, owners said on Saturday.
The owner of Wide Angle Multiplex, which has theatres in Ahmedabad city and Mehasana, said it will not screen the film till the dispute between the Rajput community leaders and the film producers is resolved.
While protests against the film continued in several parts of the state, multiplex owners’ association of Rajkot said they won’t screen the film either.
“We have decided not to show the film at Wide Angle multiplexes in Ahmedabad and Mehasana till the two parties resolve the dispute,” said Manubhai Patel, the owner of Wide Angle Multiplexes, who is also the state president of Multiplex Owners Association.
Other multiplex owners will take their own decision as the association has not taken any collective decision on the issue, Patel said.
“We have taken the decision (not to screen) keeping in mind the safety of our property and that of viewers,” he said.
In Rajkot, following a meeting between theatre owners and representatives of Karni Sena, a Rajput outfit which is vehemently opposing the film for alleged distortion of facts, it was reportedly decided that the film won’t be screened either in multiplexes or single-screen theatres in the city.
“No theatre would screen 'Padmaavat’. The decision was taken in the meeting. Leaders of the Rajput community and the owners of multiplex and single-screen theatres attended the meeting,” claimed Rajbha Zala, secretary of the Saurashtra unit of Karni Sena.
In Madhya Pradesh, uncertainty lingers over the release of the film. “Since the state government has not yet clarified its stand, there is atmosphere of uncertainty, especially for single-screen cinema owners,” Central Cine Circuit Association’s former general secretary Jitendra Jain said.
Jain, himself a prominent film distributor, said the film could be shown in multiplexes, but for single-screen cinemas security is a major concern.
As to the release in multiplexes, the decision would be taken by multiplex companies based in Mumbai, he said.
“Five days are left for the release of the film, and if the state government assures that it will provide security to single-screen theatres, the film can be exhibited in these theatres,” said Jain.
In Rajasthan too, the same situation continues, as theatre owners are still clueless whether distributors will purchase the rights of the movie.
The audiences have already started enquiring about the release of the film in cinema halls but there is no advance booking or confirmation whether or not the movie will be screened in the state.
“I am not going to purchase the rights of the film as I am going out of the country on a family holiday on January 24,” a leading film distributor Raj Bansal said.
“If the distributors are not ready to purchase the rights, the film producer approaches the exhibitors (cinema halls) for screening the film, but confusion is prevailing in case of Padmaavat.
“None of the distributors have purchased the rights so far. We have no answer for our audiences,” Govind Khandelwal, manager of Entertainment Paradise said.
Marketing manager of Inox cinemas-Jaipur Sanjeev Sharma said he can not make any comments at the moment.
“Once it is clear that distributors have purchased the rights, only then we can open bookings,” he said.
The manager of Raj Mandir cinema, Ashok Tanwar, also concurred with other theatre owners and said he is still not sure if the film will be released in the state.
“We are not expecting the film to release and this is what we are telling those who are making queries about it,” he said.
Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters