Be fearless, go watch the movie, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had told Mumbaiites. But the city isn’t convinced that he can rein in the Shiv Sena.
A day before the release of the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name is Khan, theatre owners remained undecided about defying the Sena and showing the film. Although distributors FOX Star said it was releasing the film, jittery theatre owners refused to come on record about their Friday plans, and there were conflicting reports through the day.
At the time of going to press, government and theatre officials, requesting anonymity, said the decision about screening the film in Maharashtra would taken at a meeting on Friday morning.
It’s not the big bang release Karan Johar, Shar Rukh Khan (who are currently in Berlin for the film’s showing) or the distributors would have wished for. The fate of the film, which cost around Rs 81 crore, is uncertain in Mumbai and Maharashtra, which contribute about 40 per cent of the country’s total collections — a minimum of around Rs 20 crore.
The indecision is an embarrassment for the chief minister and the ruling Congress, which is now trying to broker a face-saving formula.
“We will try and get it released in at least a few theatres in the morning. A trouble-free showing may encourage other cinemas to follow suit,” government sources told Hindustan Times late on Thursday.
The Sena is unwilling to budge. “Our agitation against Shah Rukh Khan will continue till he apologises to the nation for making pro-Pakistan statements,” said Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut.
Not willing to be left out of the issue, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday asked why his uncle’s party was only targeting Shah Rukh when film star Amitabh Bachchan had recently shared the stage with a Pakistani artiste.
Was there a lack of political will in combating the Sena? “To this I will give you a truthful answer a year later, once I retire,” Mumbai police commissioner D. Sivanandhan told CNN-IBN.
Chavan, who took charge of police action from NCP’s R.R. Patil — the Home Minister – to ensure theatres get adequate protection, had the police intensifying its crackdown on Sainiks on Thursday, with detentions climbing to 2,200.
Security was deployed outside the city’s 63 cinemas where the film is scheduled to be released.
“I am firm on my stand, let the theatres decide what they want to do. We have assured them of adequate security,” Chavan said.
It hasn’t helped that NCP chief Sharad Pawar visited the Thackerays seeking permission to include Aussie players in the IPL, just days before.