Theatre owners in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday decided not to screen controversial film “Padmaavat” even as the state witnessed protests and bandh in several places against the period drama. The state government, however, said it was ready to provide security if the theatre owners wanted to screen the movie. A delegation of cinema and multiplex owners, under the aegis of the Central Cine Circuit Association (CCCA), met Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh and later announced that they would not screen the film as of now.
“During the meeting, we conveyed to the chief minister that the cinema hall owners are not going to release the movie in Madhya Pradesh as protests against the film have burgeoned,” threatre owner, Azizuddin, who was a part of the delegation, told PTI after the meeting. “We are also concerned about the public sentiments,” he said. Azizuddin, who is the secretary of the Bhopal Cinema Association and a member of the CCCA, said the association would again review the situation after some days to see if the theatre owners were willing to screen Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama.
“We will provide security if the cinema halls or the multiplexes are ready to release the movie in the state. They themselves have decided not to release the movie,” state Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told reporters. Chief Secretary Basant Pratap Singh said, “We will make arrangements if there is be any law and order problem. We will provide security if the film is released in the state.”
The Multiplex Association of India, which represents about 75 per cent of multiplex owners, on Wednesday said that its members would not screen the film in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. Meanwhile, several places in the state, including Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Dewas Beora, Shujalpur Shajapur, Harda and Jhabua, witnessed the protests and closure of commercial establishments while the educational institutions remained open.
The markets remained closed at some of the places since morning. Protesters took out a bike rally in Gwalior and raised slogans demanding a ban on the film. In Indore also, the protesters took out a rally. In Bhopal, the cinema halls wore a deserted look even as heavy police force was deployed outside the theatres. In Harda, various commercial establishments remained closed after the call for bandh given by the Karni Sena and other Rajput organisations.
The Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena’s Harda district president, Suraj Bhan, said the traders extended support to their call for a bandh. “Our agitation would continue. We will not allow the release of the movie in the city’s cinema halls. We will also felicitate the cinema hall owners for not releasing the movie,” he said. In Jhabua, the main markets of the city remained closed till afternoon as some protesters took out a rally.
The police said security has been beefed up outside cinema halls across the state.