The Shiv Sena may have been able to terrorise cinema theatre owners, at least initially, but it could not do the same to the residents of Mumbai.
Mumbaikars descended in hordes to the few theatres that began screening Shah Rukh starrer My Name Is Khan, ensuring a full house at every show. It encouraged the more timid among the theatre owners to also begin — amid massive security — running the film, which drew packed houses in these theatres as well.
The Shiv Sena’s disruptions remained limited to its areas of core influence in central and north central Mumbai — Parel, Lalbaug and Dadar — where they even briefly shut down the shops. Elsewhere the Sena’s threats proved empty.
“The Sena needs to think whether there is general sense of disapproval to political of violence or threat,” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.
The Sena, however, claimed its stir had been a great success. “Congress workers could not make the movie halls ‘house full’ despite buying tickets in lots,” a signed statement by its chief Bal Thackeray said.
Among the first to watch the film in the theatres was Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil.
Reports coming from other parts of Maharashtra said the situation was calm, though some more protesting Sainiks had been arrested in Nagpur.
“I thank u all for this… apologise for giving stress over the last few days...and now truly know the meaning of being humbled. Love u all so much,” tweeted Shahrukh Khan from Berlin, where he is attending the world premiere of his film.
To clarify that his regret in a tweet was not an apology to the Sena, which has demanded that Khan apologise for his remarks about the Pakistani cricketers, he posted another message on Twitter to say his apology was to his fans and no one else.
“Just hearing some media reports. What I say here is for my fans across the world. That’s all,” wrote Khan.