Salman film row: Won’t let YRF shoot in Maha if it pushes Marathi film out of multiplexes, says MNS
Yash Raj Films must stop arm-twisting theatres, allow ‘Deva’ prime-time space, says the party, promising to stir up trouble otherwisemumbai Updated: Dec 20, 2017 17:15 IST
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Wednesday upped its ante against Yash Raj Films (YRF), the producer of Salman Khan-starrer ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, threatening that it would not allow the production house to shoot any of its films in Maharashtra in the future, if it did not concede prime-time space to Marathi movie ‘Deva’.
Among the costliest films produced under the YRF banner, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ is scheduled to release across India this Friday.
Ameya Khopkar, president of the MNS film workers’ union, alleged that YRF has been arm-twisting multiplexes to show their film on the maximum number of screens, thereby pushing ‘Deva’ out of cinema halls. “If ‘Deva’ does not get prime-time space, we will not allow YRF to shoot anywhere in the state,” warned Khopkar. “YRF is dictating terms to multiplex owners and trying to deny a chance to Marathi films, and that too in Maharashtra. We will not allow this at any cost.”
Khopkar said he has talked to the state’s cultural affairs and Marathi language minister Vinod Tawde, asking him to intervene and take action against multiplexes and single-screen theatres that do not screen the Marathi movie.
“The state government should cancel the licences of theatre owners if they give Marathi films a stepmotherly treatment,” the MNS leader said. As per the conditions laid down for issuing licences to multiplexes, it is mandatory for them to screen Marathi movies.
Actor Ankush Chaudhari, who plays the lead role in ‘Deva’, said that currently the Marathi film has very few options. “There have been many instances when both Marathi and Hindi films have been screened simultaneously, and both have done well. But here, we are hardly getting any theatres because of the producer’s pressure tactics,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam has criticised Raj Thackeray’s party for its threats, calling it a classic example of “MNS goondaism”. “These threats of violence against YRF and theatre owners are aimed at politicising the issue and are for ulterior gains,” said Nirupam. “If the MNS has a problem, it should take it to the state government instead of issuing threats.”
As the police machinery has proved ineffective against the MNS in the past, Nirupam said, theatre owners should be allowed to deploy private security personnel.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has called the row a match-fixing exercise planned by Thackeray and Salman Khan. “They are good friends, and this is just a promotional activity they have undertaken. It keeps both the film and the MNS in the news,” said NCP leader Nawab Malik.
This is not the first time that the MNS has taken on Bollywood and its big-ticket producers. In September 2016, following the Uri attack in which 18 army jawans were killed, the MNS issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to leave India.
After the deadline, party workers launched an agitation outside filmmaker Karan Johar’s Andheri office as he had defended his casting of Fawad Khan, a Pakistani national, in his movie. However, later, the MNS allowed Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Raees’, both of which featured Pakistani artists, to be screened after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened.