Day 1 of the screening of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s debut movie ‘MSG: The Messenger’, remained a peaceful affair on Friday with most of the crowd, ranging between 3,000 and 3,500 across the day, at the four multiplexes where the film was screened being dera followers. Some journalists and other people curious about the film were also seen at the halls.
Barring the two PVR halls adjacent to each other in the Industrial Area, there was no huge rush for seats at the other two venues — the Piccadily Square, Sector 34, and Fun Republic, Manimajra. Most followers were from Punjab as the movie is banned there.
Rush rose by evening
The response to the film picked up by late evening and the night shows, with the crowd doubling and even trebling in strength for the night shows. The night show at the Centra Mall saw almost double the people over the morning one.
There were five buses lined up outside the mall in the evening, while only a couple were seen in the morning. The Elante also saw greater crowd for the movie in the evening. Piccadily Square saw increased rush of people. At Elante, the last show was at 11.30 pm.
Food was also being prepared in the open near the Elante Mall in the parking area for the followers, most of whom had come from Kurukshetra, Sirsa, Jind in Haryana and Jalandhar, Bathinda, Sangrur and Ludhiana in Punjab.
Valentine sales hit
Shopkeepers at the Elante Mall said the business was hit due to the ban on entry for cars in the parking and footfall suffered.
The mood seemed to be festive with followers, donning MSG t-shirts, started reaching the multiplexes as early as 8am for the 9am show, with Centra Mall in the Industrial Area witnessing the maximum rush in spite of tight security arrangements put in place by the administration.
At the Elante, followers had come from far-off places and were seen waiting for afternoon show tickets. Some were even being escorted inside by dera followers.
The show at PVR Centra opened to a jam-packed show and the afternoon shows ran full.
Ticket-seeking followers of Ram Rahim at these two malls were asked to see the movie at the Sector-34 Piccadily Square hall. At the Fun Republic, there was little rush with anyone buying tickets from the counter.
Police had made tight security arrangements and parking of the vehicles was not allowed in vicinity of the malls. No incident of violence was reported from Chandigarh.
UT SSP Sukchain Singh Gill said, “The screening went off peacefully. Similar arrangements will continue on Saturday. We are yet to take a decision on opening up the parking at the Elante Mall.”
Harjinder Kaur, who had come along with a group of 70 people, most of them women from Sunam in Punjab, said, “We have come to watch our guru, who is spreading the message of love and peace.”
Acchar Singh from Ferozepur said, “This movie is not like others. Our guru is giving a message against the menace of drugs and liquor.”
With barricades being set up in different parts of the city, traffic snarls were witnessed around the Elante Mall and Centra Mall, with residents finding it difficult to reach their offices and homes. Near the Sector-34 Piccadily Square, office-goers struggled to find a parking space.
Meanwhile, the police intercepted members of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), who were marching towards the Sector-34 Piccadily Square.
“I met the AISSF members and told them the film contained nothing that could hurt religious sentiments. So, they left peacefully,” the SSP added. email@example.com