Audiences wanted to make a point
“In the film, a statement ‘We shall overcome’ inspires Shah Rukh Khan. I hope the statement inspires our leaders too, who are creating a ruckus over a non-issue,” said Sujata Naik (38), a marketing executive, outside Fun Republic cinema.
Protests across Mumbai inspired many people to come out and watch the film and make a point. Textiles Minister Naseem Khan was one of them.
Twenty to 30 Sainiks tried disrupting the screening at the theatre by pelting stones and throwing glass bottles. Police caned the protestors.
Multiplexes in Malad and Borivli screened the film, but many single-screen theatres chose not to.
At least five policemen were posted at the gates of every theatre that did screen the film.
The controversy seemed to have generated curiosity. “We just wanted to see what the fuss was about,” said Shabana Azmi, a resident of Acme Complex, Malad (West) who saw the film at Inorbit Mall, Malad.
To some, the city looked like a war zone. “It felt as if we are going to watch a movie in Kashmir,” said Atul Seth, a resident of Evershine Nagar, Malad (West).
Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone XI), Sanjay Banerjee, said Fame Cinemas, Cinemax multiplexes and some single-screen theatres screened the film. “We made sure there was no untoward incident,” said Banerjee.
Sena activists forcibly downed the shutters of shops at Kandivli (East) after Broadway theatre started screening the film.
Shops were also closed down at Goregaon after Oberoi Mall’s PVR Cinema started screening of MNIK.
A mob of 30 arrived at Cinemax theatre, Kandivli, but surrendered after seeing the police.
Stray roars in Sena’s lair
Tension in the Sena stronghold was palpable.
Sainiks started going around Parel, Lalbaug, Dadar Worli and Prabhadevi, in the afternoon forcing shops to shut down.
At Premier Cinema, Parel, there was an eerie silence. Some Sena activists threw two soda bottles. A group of 15 Sainiks marched into the cinema hall but were promptly arrested. Audiences anticipated trouble but the screening passed smoothly.
Windshields of BEST buses were damaged at Lalbaug. Reports of stones being pelted on buses came in from Bhoiwada and parts of south Mumbai. In Worli, Sainiks damaged two BEST buses, and a Honda City.
State Reserve Police Force personnel kept vigil at IMAX, Wadala. Even residents of neighbouring housing colonies were allowed to pass by only after they were thoroughly questioned.
Most theatres played safe
Two shows of the film (12 pm and 3 pm) were screened peacefully at Shreyas Cinema, Ghatkopar barring stray incidents of stone pelting. No one was hurt.
Hundreds of policemen were present. It was unclear whether the film will be screened on Saturday.
Collections started with a meagre 20 per cent for the matinee show but soared to more than 50 per cent in the next show. “No one was aware about the matinee show thus we could not sell any tickets. However people thronged the cinema hall for the 3 pm show,” said assistant theatre manager, Thomas D’Souza.
None of the other single-screen theatres or multiplexes in Ghatkopar, Mulund or Kanjur Marg showed the film.
At Fun Cinema, Chembur, Sena corporator Tukaram Kale and his supporters tried to enter the premises, but were restrained by a lathi charge. The police arrested Kale, two women activists and 31 party supporters. Irked by the arrests,
Sainiks pelted stones on the nearby ‘All Car Mall’, shattering its windows. Sainiks also damaged a private bus outside Amar Cinema, Chembur, when the theatre started screening the film. A BEST bus, three taxis and four shops were damaged by protestors.
More security than audience
While at least a hundred viewers watched the 12 noon show of My Name Is Khan at Colaba’s Regal cinema on Friday afternoon, outside the theatre it was deserted.
The theatre had drawn its iron grills half way across its doors and policemen checked every patron. Less than 200 people turned up for the 3 pm show.
The pavement outside Inox, Nariman Point was crowded with enthusiastic viewers, journalists and at least 50 police personnel. Viewers found the police presence and special visits by Home Minister R.R.Patil and Minister of State for Home, Ramesh Bagwe, to be assuring.
However, none of the single-screen theatres at Mumbai Central, Grant Road and Opera House screened the movie.
Thane & Navi Mumbai
No show in Thane, Navi Mumbai
Theatres in Thane and Navi Mumbai did not screen the film despite heavy security. There was no violence in either place.
“Seventeen theatres including three multiplexes had informed us that they would screen the movie. So, we had deployed 2,000 personnel at these theatres,” said Thane Police Commissioner, Anil Dhere.
A few days ago, the Thane police had made 180 preventive arrests. Twenty-seven Sainiks were arrested in Navi Mumbai. Some shops in Kopar Khairane closed in the evening.
Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Anand Paranjpe visited some theatres warning them against screening the movie.
“It is sad that our policemen have to stand guard for Shah Rukh’s movie,” said Shinde. “The chief minister is on the streets to ensure the smooth running of a film.”
Reporting by: Shahkar Abidi, Megha Sood, Naresh Kamath, Sujit Mahamulkar, G. Mohiuddin Jeddy, Megha Pol, Aarefa Johari, Susamma Kurian and Aalap Deboor.