The cliff-hanger over the release of My Name Is Khan ended on a jubilant note on Friday with 35 to 40 theatres releasing the film in the city, some starting with shows from noon and Mumbaikars turning out in droves to watch the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer. After much dithering, multiplexes decided to call the Shiv Sena’s bluff and go ahead with screenings which went almost full right from the start.
Mumbaikars came out in defiance of the Sena’s diktat that theatres must not release the film to protest Shah Rukh favouring Pakistani cricket players in the IPL. A small round of applause resounded in the ticket line at Inox multiplex in south Mumbai as soon as the name of the movie and the show timings first started flashing above the ticket counter at 12.15 p.m. Earlier in the day, several moviegoers queuing up since morning were turned away.
When the ‘Current Booking’ sign was displayed, there were cheers all over. “Yeah!” cheered Jyoti Modi as she stepped out of the line with the ticket in hand. “I have come here for Shah Rukh and Kajol. If they [Shiv Sainiks] want to enter, let them. I have been waiting for the movie for a long time,” Ms. Modi told The Hindu.
At Fun Republic Multiplex in Andheri West, there was no poster advertising the film, but people quickly bought tickets for the noon show. There were some feeble attempts by the Shiv Sainiks to cause trouble and initially three or four women started protesting but the police overpowered them.
Police bandobust was the heaviest at Inox, where State Home Minister R.R. Patil strolled in along with Minister of State (Home) Ramesh Bagwe for the first show of the day at 12.55 p.m.
Mr. Patil said, “Today the movie has [been] released amidst much happiness. Security has been provided to all the theatres. Constables have been positioned inside and outside the theatres. All those theatre-owners who wish to screen the movie and viewers who want to watch it will be given protection.”
Lathicharge in Chembur; bottles hurled at Khan’s office
The Shiv Sena flexed its muscle in some places on Friday as My Name Is Khan kept its date with the viewers. Incidents of vandalism and protests took place in various parts of the city.
Joint Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, Himanshu Roy said 136 Sainiks were arrested in substantive arrests and 2,929 rounded up under Preventive Action.
On Friday evening, some assailants threw soda bottles at Shah Rukh Khan’s office in Bandra.
When asked if the police was thinking of instituting an inquiry against the top Sena leadership, Mumbai Police Commissioner D. Sivanandhan told TheHindu that the department was seeking legal advice and a decision would be taken after examining the culpability of the leaders.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said: “The andolan has started. The film was only released under Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s pressure. At least 150 men were guarding the theatres with AK-47s. If so many stood guard at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during 26/11, we could have prevented the attack. If a terror strike were to take place now, who would be responsible?”
Raut calls viewers Kasab-lovers
Deriding viewers, he said: “These are Kasab-lovers and Pakistan-lovers. They will definitely go, but the country is with us. The Congress has created a mini-Pakistan in India and will shower flowers on a ‘Khan.’ The andolan is 100 per cent successful.”
Mr. Sivanandhan said the bandobast would continue.