Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period movie “Padmaavat” was not released in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, while in Maharashtra the first show of the film went off without any major incident. Police in Mumbai maintained tight security outside theatres showing the Deepika Padukone-starrer. There was no incident of violent protest against the film in the city or elsewhere in Maharashtra, said a senior police official.
The Multiplex Association of India, which represents around 75 per cent of multiplex owners in the country, had said yesterday that its members would not screen the film in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. However, in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, not even the single-screen theatres dared to screen the film on the opening day. In Goa, only a couple of single-screen theatres screened it amid police security.
In Gujarat, while the film was not screened anywhere, the nationwide bandh (general strike) call given by the Karni Sena failed to make major impact, as educational institutes, offices and markets remained open. As a precautionary measure, the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) suspended its bus services from Ahmedabad to Mehsana and Banaskantha.
Protesters tried to block roads in some parts of Amreli, Surendranagar, Patan, Vadodara, Mehsana, Rajkot and Banaskantha districts by burning tyres. Barring these, there were no untoward incidents, state police said. Over 20,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel were deployed across Gujarat on Thursday for security. In Chhattisgarh, over 100 persons from various outfits including the Bajrang Dal were arrested while protesting against the film, which was released amid tight security.
Chhattisgarh police said no untoward incident had occurred anywhere till afternoon. In Raigarh, activists allegedly belonging to the Chhattisgarh Kshatriya Mahasabha organised a motorcycle rally and later burnt Bhansali’s effigy. Madhya Pradesh witnessed protests and bandh in several places against the film, though it was not released anywhere in the state.
A delegation of cinema and multiplex owners, under the aegis of the Central Cine Circuit Association (CCCA), met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and later announced that they would not screen the film as of now. The delegation told Chouhan that cinema hall owners would not release the film as protests had increased, said theatre owner Azizuddin, a member of the CCCA, adding the association would review the situation after some days.
“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,” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told reporters. Several places including Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Dewas, Beora, Shujalpur, Shajapur, Harda and Jhabua witnessed protests and closure of commercial establishments, while educational institutions remained open.
In Mumbai, police maintained tight vigil outside theatres screening the film. Some policemen were also deployed inside the cinema halls to thwart any attempt to disrupt the screening, said an official. Police also tightened security at the residences of Bhansali and Padukone in the city. The film is based on the saga of the 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi. Rajput groups have opposed it for alleged distortion of history.
The Supreme Court last week paved the way for the nationwide release of “Padmaavat” by staying the ban on its screening in Gujarat and Rajasthan.