After much dithering, multiplexes in Mumbai screened the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name Is Khan on Friday.

Mumbaikars came out in defiance of the Shiv Sena’s diktat that theatres must not release the film to protest Shah Rukh’s favouring Pakistani players in IPL. The fans thronged the theatres right from the morning.

“I don’t want any dictator to dictate to me what I should watch. They [Sena] want to take away the attention of the people from the real issues like water. If they feel Shah Rukh was wrong, they should have gone to court. If they love the mother land, they should love the constitution of the country,” said Gulrez Khureshi, a viewer at Inox.

Among the crowds were those who had come with the express purpose of defying the Sena. “I am here to support Shah Rukh, My Name Is Khan and to support the idea that no one can dictate to us. Every Indian should be proud of Shah Rukh that he is the citizen of India. I don’t care even if they throw stones or burn down the theatre. I have come as an act of defiance,” says Salome Roy Kapoor. Much of the chatter reflected the collective support for the actor. “This is a democracy,” “We must come out and support Shah Rukh,” some said.

Shah Rukh’s wife Gauri Khan came to Fun Republic to watch the film. “Everyone should watch the movie. Shah Rukh’s very happy that everyone’s come out and supporting him. He was very sad yesterday, but he is happy today,” she said.

Earlier in the day, at Fun Republic, there was an incident of stone-throwing which did no damage to the glass on the theatre’s sides. The first show at noon was almost full and one die hard SRK fan was turned away as ticket sales had stopped.

Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam among others managed to get tickets to enter. Late entrants Kabir Bedi and his daughter Pooja came there to make a statement. “We walked all the way here; there is no tension or fear. I think everyone should come out in strong support of Shah Rukh Khan. People cannot dictate terms to us,” Pooja said.

Her father said: “We believe in the state security and even if there was an attempt to create fear we should confront it. I appeal to everyone to come and see the film and not get cowed down.”

People crowded the theatre complex soon after news appeared on television that the noon show would be there. Online bookings too helped people buy tickets at the last minute. Eager fans did not mind the heavy checking and frisking as the police were taking no chances. Even roads leading to the theatres were being checked by the police.