ANTICIPATING protests from Rajput fringe groups over the release of Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat, the Maharashtra Police have issued an advisory to all district commissionerates and unit commanders to make elaborate security arrangements. The state police have asked districts such as Aurangabad, Nashik and Kolhapur, among others, which have been identified as “sensitive pockets”, to up vigil.
The State Intelligence Department (SID) has also issued inputs to pre-empt trouble from the Karni Sena and a few other Rajput and Thakur organisations that have called for a ‘Bharat bandh’ on January 25. “Protests and demonstrations are likely to be organised all over the state, especially in areas with a large population of Rajput and Thakur communities. They may try to pressurise theatre owners not to release the movie,” reads the input issued by the state intelligence wing.
“In view of above, all local unit commanders are requested to gear up their intelligence machinery and keep close vigil on the activities of the protesting organisations and take precautionary measures to avoid any law and order situation,” the SID input adds.
“Earlier this week, we had information that members of the fringe groups held a meeting to protest the release of the movie. Glimpses of it was witnessed in Navi Mumbai on Monday. Also, Aurangabad is a sensitive district with a sizeable presence of Rajput groups, who can create law and order problem. Kolhapur is where members of the Karni Sena ransacked the sets of the movie last year. A few other cities and districts like Nashik, Nagpur and Pune have been identified as sensitive pockets and unit heads have been asked to make elaborate security arrangements,” said an official from the DGP’s office.
While police are required to ensure no ruckus is caused outside the movie halls, security inside the theatres would be the responsibility of the theatre owners. “Police will be deployed outside the theatres to ensure there is no law and order breakdown. If the protesters want to stage a peaceful protest outside the theatres, police have to ensure the demonstration doesn’t turn violent and nobody takes the law into their hands,” the official added.
Police units have been asked to issue a list of measures that theatre managements need to take to ensure trouble-mongers don’t disrupt shows. Sources said theatre owners won’t be asked to pay for security cover outside the cinema halls.
When reached for comments, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Bipin Bihari told The Indian Express that extensive measures have been put in place to ensure the movie is screened across theatres in the state peacefully. “Elaborate measures are being taken by unit commanders to ensure no law and order breakdown takes place and patrons are able to watch the movie. They have been asked to issue guidelines to movie halls,” Bihari said.
Meanwhile, pre-bookings of Padmaavat started on Tuesday. While centres in the western suburbs of Mumbai seem to have done good business, the other halls are still gearing up. Nilesh Ghadi, manager of Fun Cinema, Chembur, pre-bookings generally start a day prior to release. “The tickets will mostly be booked on the spot or in the morning. As of now, we have 70 seats booked for the three shows in our theatre for January 24,” he said.
Similarly, the manager of a single-screen theatre in Navi Mumbai said, “We have received a few pre-bookings, almost 20 per cent, which is normal. We believe a lot of people will come and book tickets on the spot.” For Bandra and nearby areas, pre-bookings have skyrocketed. According to Manoj Desai, executive director of G7 multiplexes, the movie has already been almost fully pre-booked. “We are screening the movie from January 25. For both our screens, nearly 80 per cent seats have been pre-booked for that day,” he said.
Halls and multiplexes around Goregaon and Andheri have been pre-booked to nearly full-capacity on various booking portals for the first day’s shows. Across Mumbai, the bookings have shown a pattern. “Most bookings are for the night though. It is probably because evening and night shows are considered family friendly,” said Ghadi.