HYDERABAD: The buzz on the street was Baahubali. ‘Do you have the ticket? How did you get the ticket? Which ticket do you have? and to the more common, ‘How can I get a ticket?’ — these were the questions, hours before the release of the much ballyhooed Tollywood movie on Thursday.
An unprecedented rush continued for the second day at cinemas as fans scrounged for tickets. Cases have been filed for blackmarketing, arrests have made, videos and posts about the film have gone viral on social media, and tickets are being showcased as trophies. Baahubali mania has gripped the entire city, and everybody is trying to cash in on it. The movie is turning out to be a security nightmare for theatres on release day — Friday. In the past, many hardcore fans have committed suicide if they couldn’t get tickets or have been killed in stampedes during big releases of stars like Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan. It may be recalled that around seven people lost their lives in a stampede during the release of Magadheera, also a Rajamouli film.
With Baahubali generating a frenzy bordering on insanity, security remains a major headache for theatre owners, and most of them have decided to seek police help.
“We are seeking police support to help us with security and we have also roped in more personnel to deal with the situation. There will be four security check points before entry to the cinema hall and we are confident things will go smoothly,” said Amarnath of Agile Group, which handles security for Prasads multiplex.
City police say they are not worried as a majority of the tickets have been sold. “We are not expecting unruly crowds. If the situation gets out of hand, we are ready to step in,” said Kamalhasan Reddy, DCP.
Meantime, Cine Prekshaka Sangham, a movie-goers association, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court accusing the producers, distributors and theatre owners of conspiring to jack up ticket prices. Lashing out at producer-distributor Dil Raju, president of Cine Prekshaka Sangam G Narasimha Rao alleged he was selling tickets in black.
“Everybody knows that Dil Raju is heavily involved in black market business. If you go to his office, you will see that he’s selling tickets in bulk at exorbitant rates,” alleged Narasimha Rao.
Accusing the producers of double standards, he fumed, “They are creating such a hue and cry over piracy but at the same time, they are extorting money from people by selling tickets at higher rates.”
Theatre Owners Arrested for Black Marketing
More black marketeers have been arrested on Thursday. Police swooped down on R Sambasiva Rao who took police permission for a special morning show at Mahalaxmi theatre in Chaitanyapuri but was peddling the tickets in black. He was caught selling tickets at prices ranging from `300 to `1000. Theatre manager Bhumani was taken into custody and the police seized 1975 tickets and `96,520 cash. In Saroornager, Mega theatre was raided by a Special Operations Team, who took P Anjaneyulu, 37, and L Krishna, 30 into custody, along with theatre manager P Satyanarayana Goud. As many as 66 tickets plus `2820 cash was seized. In AP, district administration as well as police department in Visakhapatnam stepped in to curb black marketing. Joint collector J Nivas instructed theatre managements to sell tickets above `50 online and only those below `50 at booking counters. However, many theatre owners allegedly sold only 20 pc of the tickets and blocked the rest for selling in black. Angry fans attacked Sri Kanya theatre and damaged glass panes. According to fans, the theatre initially posted posters of Baahubali, but on Thursday, they put up a notice board that the movie wouldn’t be screened.