Mumbaiites refused to be cowed down by Shiv Sena threats on Friday, turning out in droves to watch My Name Is Khan.
At Inorbit Mall, Atul Seth, a resident of Evershine Nagar in Malad (W), said: “I had got the tickets the day before and was not going to sit at home fearing the Sena.”
At Inox, Nariman Point, Congress legislator Amin Patel stood in line to buy tickets for the film along with five of his friends. “I watched the film as a common man. I wanted to make the point that no one can dictate terms to us,” he said.
“I saw the film just to get a kick. I can now brag that I saw it on the first day itself,” said a beaming Prashant Kadam, a college student.
The Shah Rukh Khan-starrer opened to full houses across the city despite the Sena trying to create an atmosphere of tension.
The Sena responded by protesting outside cinema halls and trying to enforce shutdowns in commercial areas. While they failed completely to disrupt screenings, they achieved limited success in forcing people to shut shops.
Groups of Sainiks went around Worli, Prabhadevi, Dadar, Antop Hill, Chembur, Girgaon, Vikhroli, Sion, Goregaon, Jogeshwari and Borivli warning shopkeepers to down shutters. They also pelted stones at a Hyundai showroom in Govandi; Khan, who the Sena is targeting, is the automobile major’s brand ambassador.
A Mercedes showroom was also attacked in Parel.
Nana Ambole, Sena corporator from Parel, warned: “All should cooperate with us or we will show them our methods.”
Angry shopkeepers lashed out at the Sena. “Business is already down. The Sena is targeting us because they failed to stall the release of My Name Is Khan,” said a shopkeeper at Hindmata cloth market.
The Sena was left red-faced after its senior leader Manohar Joshi landed up for a protest at Dadar’s Fame Nakshatra — a cinema hall that was not screening the film. Many were surprised because Joshi owns the Nakshatra Cine Shoppe, which houses the theatre.
“This was just a stunt to fool the people,” said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Sandeep Deshpande, who stays nearby.
Across the city, several agitating Sainiks were arrested as they turned their ire even on BEST buses. They damaged six buses in all.
At Fun Republic in Andheri (W) a group of 20 to 30 Sainiks tried to create a ruckus, but were chased away by the police. Witnesses said some of the Sainiks hid on the terrace of a nearby building but were quickly found by the police.
Nikhil Rao (24), who was part of the audience at Fun Republic, said: “I have come to watch the film and make the point that in India it’s the people who rule. Hooligans will not be allowed to have their insane way.”
At Inox, Nariman Point, the pavement outside was crowded with film buffs, mediapersons and police personnel. “Some of our shows are already full. For the others, seats are filling up fast,” said a booking clerk. The presence of the police and a visit by Home Minister R.R. Patil assured viewers of their safety.
“There is no need to be afraid when there is so much security to protect us,” said Jigar Shah, who watched the 2.45 pm show.