As Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat released on Thursday, several north Indian states saw protests by Rajput outfits. Many theatres in these states did not screen the film apprehending violence and vandalism. The other states, which had put security measures in place, witnessed peaceful screenings.
No screenings, JLF begins
The film was not screened anywhere in the state, with film distributors and cinema hall owners backing out fearing vandalism. Rajput outfits protested held protests at several places. At Udaipur, the protests turned violent, where police lathi-charged the mob that had gathered outside a cinema hall. Protesters also vandalised shops along the Chittorgarh-Udaipur highway and the Chittorgarh Fort witnessed heavy police deployment following threats by Rajput women to commit jauhar. As part of the precautions, police screened tourists and those living within the fort. In Jaipur, Rajput outfits took out a protest march and raised slogans against the movie. Police was also deployed around Diggi Palace where the Jaipur Literature Festival began on Thursday.
No shows, some blockades
A bandh call by Rajput Karni Sena failed to make any major impact in Gujarat, but none of the theatres in the state screened the movie for security reasons. Barring a few incidents, the situation remained peaceful, police said. The protesters tried to block roads in parts of Amreli, Surendranagar, Patan, Vadodara, Mehsana, Rajkot and Banaskantha districts and forced shopkeepers to down shutters in Mehsana and Rajkot, police said. As a precautionary measure, Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation suspended bus services from Ahmedabad to Mehsana and Banaskantha, an official said. At Mehsana, the private vehicle of a deputy mamlatdar was torched while the jeep of a DSP was attacked by a mob to enforce bandh. Police had to lob teargas shells to disperse the mob. More than three dozen protesters were arrested.
9 districts screen, Amu among 34 held
The movie released in 33 cinema halls across nine of the 22 districts of the state. A police officer said they had made arrangements to deploy police at 63 halls, but only 33 of them screened the movie. DGP B S Sandhu said, “We provided adequate security to cinema hall owners of which expressed willingness to screen the movie. The screening was peaceful, although there were protests at one or two places. The movie was screened in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Hisar, Rohtak, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Jhajjar, Rewari and Sonipat district.” As many as 34 persons have been arrested in connection with the movie’s release. Of them, 23 persons have been nabbed for violence in Gurgaon on Wednesday, while two have been arrested for vandalism at a mall in Kurukshetra Sunday. Nine people have been taken into custody as part of preventive measures. Among them is former BJP media coordinator Suraj Pal Amu. Amu hit headlines in November for allegedly offering Rs 10 crore to anyone who beheaded Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone. Some youths tried to set a Haryana Roadways bus on fire in Jhajjar. Police suspect the incident may be linked to Padmaavat.
No screenings, protests held
No theatre owner in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh chose to screen Padmaavat on Thursday. Some small towns in the state witnessed bandhs and minor incidents of violence. Following incidents of violence and the state government’s stand on the film, theatre owners had earlier announced that they won’t risk screening the film. Members of an association of theatre owners met CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday, but the meeting remained inconclusive. Home Minister Bhupendra Singh has said the government would provide security to theatres and multiplexes that choose to screen the movie, but the owners are not ready yet. Azizuddin, owner of a theatre, said the film was unlikely to be released for at least two to three days because distributors are not ready.
Towns like Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Dewas, Shajapur and Ratlam witnessed protests and rallies against the movie. In Bhopal, police claimed they were yet to establish the identity of the person who set fire to a car near Jyoti Cineplex in the commercial locality of M P Nagar Wednesday.
Padmaavat shows ran without disruptions and amid tight security in Uttar Pradesh, but multiplexes and single screen theatres in Kanpur, Bahraich, Barabanki and Faizabad did not screen the film fearing protest. Protesters thrashed the owner of a shopping mall in Sitapur where the multiplex was screening the movie. Two youths were arrested for staging a protest with others outside a theatre in Gorakhpur. Kanpur SP Akhilesh Kumar said, “The owners decided not to screen it on their own. I have been told the film will be screened from tomorrow.” SPs of Bahraich, Barabanki and Faizabad said there was no protest at these places, but the cinema hall owners decided not to screen the movie.
Bihar remained largely peaceful on Thursday as Padmaavat released amid tight security. However, Karni Sena supporters staged protests on roads. While no hall in capital Patna screened the film, a cinema hall in Bihar Sharif, district headquarters of Nalanda, screened it. Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said: “We are providing security at every cinema hall screening the film. Any hall owner should feel free to show the film and demand security from the police station concerned”. Karni Sena activists took out a 5km march from Boring Road to Gandhi Maidan. They also staged protests in Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Bhojpur, East Champaran and several other districts, leading to traffic snarls, but violence was not reported anywhere.
With single screen theatres not screening Padmaavat, and state police providing security at the multiplexes, the film’s release in Jharkhand remained peaceful. In capital Ranchi, police had provided security to nearly half-a-dozen multiplexes and had also made preventive detentions. There were minor protests in Khunti and a couple of other districts, but no major incident was reported, said officials. In Dhanbad too, single screen theatres did not screen the film. “Only multiplexes showed it and heavy force was deployed,” said Prashant Singh, secretary of Single Screen Theatre Association in the state.
The film was screened in theatres in most districts, including Hardwar, Dehradun and Nainital. After protests by Hindu Jagran Manch workers in Rishikesh at a theatre screening Padmaavat, police on Thursday detained 11 persons and later released them. Dehradun SSP Nivedita Kukreti said the situation is under control. The detainees were released by Thursday evening. CM Trivendra Singh Rawat Thursday said “the film’s content does not have anything worthy of protests”.
TELANGANA & ANDHRA PRADESH
Padmaavat had peaceful release in 14 theatres across Hyderabad, although security personnel had been deployed outside most of them. While some theatre owners posted private security guards besides policemen, others were only guarded by police. Most theatres, however, were only half full. In Andhra Pradesh too, the film opened in Vijayawada and Vizag without any problems.
Padmaavat was screened peacefully across West Bengal on Thursday amid elaborate security arrangements. Police said no incidents of violence were reported and all screenings were held as per schedule. More than 20 movie theatres in Kolkata screened the film.An inspector said, “We were a bit apprehensive, but things went smoothly. We had orders to act against anyone who tries to create a problem.” Bidhannagar did not see any agitation either. Screenings were held peacefully in Siliguri too. “No protests were reported. Police arrangements were made at all important malls,” police commissioner Sunil Choudhury said.
The film had a peaceful release in Mumbai. Security had been deployed outside theatres, especially in sensitive areas such as Thane, Sion, Vashi and Dahisar. Nitin Datar, head of Cinema Owners Association of India, said the screenings have been peaceful. “We are happy that the government has done the needful,” he said. Padmaavat opened to mixed response in single screens and multiplexes in Pune. Deepak Kudale of Maharashtra Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association said, “We believe people have adopted a wait-and-watch approach. We got good support from police. In single screens, occupancy was around 30 to 40 per cent, while it was a little over 50 per cent in multiplexes.” Nagpur, too, saw police cover at important locations to prevent trouble.
Padmavaat was screened without disruption in local theaters, except those that are part of the INOX chain. Security was beefed up near the airport and Mandovi Bridge, which connects south Goa to north Goa. Peace prevailed in Goa.