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On the release day of the controversial and much-anticipated movie ‘Padmaavat’, the security has been tightened outside theatres across India on Thursday.
Security has also been deployed outside theatres in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow to avoid any unwelcome situation from the anti-Padmaavat protestors.
The Multiplex Association of India, which represents about 75 per cent of multiplex owners, said Wednesday the film would not be screened in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.
In Gujarat, theatre owners said that the film would not be screened in any of the multiplexes or single screens till the row was resolved.
Madhya Pradesh was another state where fringe outfits staged demonstrations. Nearly 200 protesters blocked National Highway-3, which links Agra with Mumbai, near Pigdambar crossing in Kishanganj area in Indore district and broke glass bottles on the road, police said.
As protests raged, a defiant Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which has been spearheading the opposition to the Bollywood period drama, sought to pin the blame on film director Bhansali.
The fringe outfit's chief patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi also insisted that a 'Janta curfew' will be imposed on theatres that screen the movie.
However, in Maharashtra’s Pune, the owner of the E-Square cinema hall owner Kishore Ganatra told ANI, “It’s peaceful. The current shows are houseful. Police presence is here; our own security is also in place. All is good as of now.”
The Supreme Court had last week paved the way for the nationwide release of "Padmaavat" by staying the ban on its screening in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The movie, which was earlier named "Padmavati" and was slated for a December 1 release.
On January 23, the Supreme Court refused to modify its earlier order on the controversy-ridden film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
The apex court had earlier set aside the notification passed by the states of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat to ban the release of the flick.
A Haryana Roadways bus was set ablaze and another vandalised in Bhondsi area in Gurugram district on Wednesday by a group of around 50 men to protest against the movie 'Padmaavat'.
The mob also pelted Haryana Police personnel deployed on the Gurugram-Alwar National Highway with stones, injuring a few policemen.
A school bus carrying children and staff was also damaged in stone-pelting, though no one was said to be injured.
While parts of North India burned in protest against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's take on Malik Muhammad Jayasi's 16th century poem, 'Padmaavat', it’s been smooth sailing for the film in South of India since its screening on Tuesday.
Given that the initial reviews have not highlighted any controversial content in the film, the peace doesn’t seem to be under any imminent threat.
The controversy perhaps may even have indirectly benefited the film. Ramkumar of Pan Cinemas Nucleus Hall in Kochi thinks so.
“Our premiere shows yesterday ran to a packed house. I think it’s on account of all the hype around it,” he said.
Rohini Silver Screens has one of 150 screens in Tamil Nadu — 24 in Chennai — that are playing Padmaavat. Nikilesh Surya, owner, said more than the controversy, the positive word of mouth has helped with bookings.
While Karnataka is observing a bandh on Thursday, the paid premieres went on peacefully on Wednesday evening. Advance booking for the film opened on Monday with tickets priced anywhere between Rs 250 and Rs 1,000. The bandh, however, has proved to be a dampener.
A spokesperson of PVR Cinemas believes, for this reason, that the occupancy will pick up from Friday onwards.
(with inputs from ENS, ANI)