Not quite typical of Bollywood, there was little tamasha outside movie halls in the city on Friday. Given how fierce the run-up to the release of Karan Johar’s latest film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) has been, the first day was rather subdued in the Tricity. This, despite the fact that the film’s lead cast — actor Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma — made a brief afternoon visit to PVR cinemas in Elante Mall heavily booked for the day’s shows.
The controversy over Karan Johar’s film had picked up pace after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) threatened to vandalise theatres that dared to screen the Fawad Khan-starrer. The political party has been demanding a ban on all Pakistani artistes in the country.
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In Chandigarh, the police said they had no instructions to deploy policemen at cinemas. “The problem was only in Maharashtra, not here,” said an official,
Only beefed-up bouncers, looking menacing without reason, as it turned out, guarded the multiplex for the duration of the celeb visit. The entrance was barricaded.
One part of the multiplex was also cordoned off, where the actors lit Diwali diyas on a makeshift stage. Event managers did not hype up the cast’s planned visit to keep audience and fans to the minimum. “We were briefed to keep it low-key due to security reasons,” said a local organiser.
Those catching the day’s second show that started at 11 am were clueless about the arrival of the actors. “We had only booked tickets yesterday and were pleasantly surprised to hear that we would get to see the actors. So we stayed back,” remarked Priya Gupta, a student of Panjab University who came to see the morning show with two of her friends.
Ardent fans of Ranbir Kapoor, Gupta and friends weren’t perturbed that this might be Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s last Bollywood outing. “We love Ranbir,” squealed the girls as the star cast made their way in.
Dressed in festive gear — Kapoor in a contemporary bandhgala and Sharma in a long navy blue kurta and churidaar — the two addressed those present about their idea to celebrate Diwali with their fans via a city-hopping tour. “I know Chandigarh has a popular gerhi route. Maybe we should check it out,” said Anushka as Ranbir pulled in some girls from the crowd and posed for a selfie. “This movie is all about love, so go on, spread some love this Diwali,” said the actor as the crowd hooted “he is hot, he is hot”.
The short event moderated by a local radio jockey was over before the movie show ended. For three police cops on duty, keeping a close eye on the proceedings, it was the perfect ending. Undeterred by the possibility of protests, audiences packed multiplexes in the Tricity to full houses on day one.
Apart from PVR Elante and PVR Mohali, Cinepolis and Piccadilly too ushered in the crowds uneventfully. “We have had good response and have heavy bookings for the weekend for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and the Ajay Devgn-starrer Shivaay,” said Devang Sampat, director, India Strategic Initiatives, Cinepolis India. However, with the controversy having no effect on ground here, the true test for ADHM will be at the box office.