Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Film and the city

On 12/2/2010 the film My name is Khan opened for show in a few theatres at noon in Bombay. After two hours more theatres had opened and by night it was business as usual.
The film’s release was hanging in balance for the past two weeks. Shiv Sena had demanded apology from Shah Rukh Khan for his statement that Pakistani players should have been selected for IPL 3. If no apology they will not allow the film to be shown in Bombay. They had also said Bombay belongs to Marathi people and had criticised anyone who said Bombay belongs to all Indians. They had dared Rahul Gandhi to visit Bombay. If he came he will be shown black flags. Rahul Gandhi visited Bombay and travelled by local trains. Black flag demonstrators were arrested. Next day Shah Rukh Khan returned from abroad. He was given security from airport to home. Shiv Sena was dejected and would have given up the boycott. Sharad Pawar visited Bal Thackeray and that gave a boost to Shiv Sena which renewed the threat to boycott the film. They sent letters to theatre owners not to show the film.
Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, assured security to theatres. Karan Johar met Police Commissioner. Meeting was held with theatre owners. Then came many twists. Sometimes theatre owners said they will not show the film. One person said the atmosphere has to be conducive. There were reports of opening and cancelling of bookings. More than 2,000 Shiv Sainiks were arrested. Shah Rukh Khan went to Abu Dhabi and Berlin. On the night of 11/2/2010 it seemed the film may not be released in the city. Ashok Chavan looked dejected. We have given security. Our job is to maintain law and order. Showing films was upto theatre owners. That was his statement.
The film was to be shown in 63 theatres in Bombay. Shiv Sena had claimed victory in its newspaper. There were no morning shows. The battle was between mobocracy and democracy. The battle between Shiv Sena and State had got personal.
The tide turned at noon. Some theatres started the show. Sanjay Nirupam, Congress MP, went to one theatre. Raosaheb Patil, Home Minsiter of Maharashtra, went to another theatre. Kabir Bedi and Pooja Bedi wanted to see the film but did not get the tickets as it was house full.
What went behind the scenes will be known in due course. What made Raosaheb Patel to go to a theatre? There was no report of Ashok Chavan going to any theatre. Shiv Sena had said there is a mass movement against the film. They had initiated the protest. There was no sign of mass movement against the film. Theatres were house full.
For the first time in Maharashtra a film was given protection against widespread threats and theatre owners showed the film. Previously at the hint of any trouble the film affected was banned by the government or theatre owners stopped the film shows. Sometimes producers or actors bowed to the demands of trouble makers.
When there was trouble regarding Wake up Sid, Karan Johar had gone to meet Raj Thackeray and bowed to his demands. That time Ashok Chavan had said if there is any trouble people should come to me. Raj Thackeray had said who is he that people should go to him. This time Ashok Chavan demonstrated the power of the state government.
Link to e-book King – a novel: http://go4quiz.com/vincent/king

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