After a spat with the Censor Board, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s movie, MSG — The Messenger, will release in more than 4,000 screens across the country on Friday. On Thursday night, ardent followers gathered at PVR cinema in Select Citywalk in the Capital for an exclusive premiere of “Guruji’s movie”.
Schoolgirls dressed as angels wearing synthetic wings lined up the red carpet outside the auditorium to welcome the Dera chief, who was accompanied by his posse of armed guards.
The audience inside the hall waited for an hour for him to arrive. Finally, the Dera chief strolled in wearing a flashy t-shirt and sequined cap. Earlier, he attempted to ride into the mall on a modified motorbike, but the police did not let him. So, he got off at the traffic light outside the mall and walked inside.
In the film, the Dera chief is seen tackling the drug menace in the country. In one of the scenes, he is shown taking on people who are attacking his ashram. In another, he is shown flying through the air and fighting off 100 sword-wielding attackers with a single punch.
In the audience were BJP MP Mahesh Giri, actor Nassir, fashion designer Jatin Kochhar, stand-up comedian Raju Srivastava and some prominent lawyers and doctors. “We did not invite his followers from different parts of Haryana and across India, otherwise there would have been a manpower problem. This was only an exclusive event for his followers from the city,” said Dr Aditya Insaan, a neurologist who works in the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.
All nine daily screenings of the film at the PVR outlet in Select Citywalk have been completely booked in advance, and there have been three lakh bookings across PVR outlets in Delhi-NCR. “This is an unprecedented response. Usually we have 5-6 daily shows for a movie but seeing the response, we increased the shows,” said a PVR spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Haryana police has been put on high alert and Section 144 has been imposed in some districts in the state.
Several Sikh radical groups as well as the Indian National Lok Dal’s youth wing INSO have threatened to launch massive agitations to stop the screening of the film.
The Punjab government has imposed a ban on the film in the state, while in Chandigarh and Panchkula, the film will be screened 73 times on the opening day. Fifty of these shows will be at two multiplexes in Chandigarh’s Industrial Area, which have been booked in advance for seven consecutive days, mall authorities said. Around 1,000 police personnel have been deployed here since several Dera followers from Punjab are likely to reach Chandigarh to watch the movie.
People associated with the Dera Sacha Sauda said the movie will be released in five languages — Hindi, English, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. The Dera chief has also got the CBI court’s permission to travel abroad to the US and Canada from February 20 to promote the film. The movie is releasing in more than 500 screens abroad, Dera workers said, adding that a sequel to the film is also being shot and 80 per cent of work on it has been finished.
Meanwhile, various Sikh organisations on Thursday protested in Haryana’s Karnal district. The district administration has deployed more than 500 police personnel to prevent any clashes between Dera supporters and Sikh radical organisations. Haryana’s Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Jagdish Singh Jhinda has already asked the Sikh community to ensure the movie is not released. Sikh organisations claim the Dera chief is facing three criminal cases and should not be allowed to release the film.
District administrations of Panchkula, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Hisar and Gurgaon have also made security arrangements. In Sirsa, the district administration on Thursday imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, barring unlawful assembly of people, around areas where the movie will be screened.
“Adequate arrangements have been made to maintain law and order. People should watch the movie as any other movie and they must not indulge in any sort of violence or clash,” Sirsa SP Ashwin Shenvi said.
Haryana DGP Yashpal Singal has been monitoring the law and order arrangements across the state for the past two days. “All Inspectors General of Police, district police chiefs and those in charge of police stations have been instructed to ensure adequate law and order arrangements,” Singal said.