BENGALURU: “Since morning we stood in queue before the ticket counters to watch Kaala. However, due to the protests our tickets were refunded. I will now go to Tamil Nadu to watch the movie," said Senthil, a software professional, who came to watch the latest Rajinikanth starrer at a cinema hall in city on Thursday. Widespread protests by pro-Kannada activists across the city led to cancellation of screening of the Kaala across the city. There was high drama in front of various multiplexes in the city since Thursday morning, over the screening of the much awaited movie.
Senthil was not alone, many others had had to wait for long hours and go home dejected. Anil Naidu, another Rajnikant fan, said that people need to understand that they cannot mix entertainment with politics. "The film and politics are very different things. Rajinikant’s entry into politics is his personal choice. It is saddening to see that we are unable to see the movie and have been asked to go home,” he observed. Despite protests across the city, scores of fans decided to stay put at various multiplexes, hoping that the situation would normalize and they would get to see the film.
While many were heartbroken over cancellation of online bookings, scores of fans were seen celebrating when they got to see the first show in Mantri Mall in Malleswaram at 1.40 pm. However, their celebrations were short-lived as after three shows Mantri Mall management decided to bow to protesters’ pressure and stopped screening late in the evening. The city witnessed protest outside several theatres in the city. Multiplexes in Mantri mall, Garuda mall, Orion mall and Lido had to shelve screening owing to protests. Outside Mantri Mall the protesters began their agitation in the morning and it went on till late in the night until the multiplex relented and agreed not to screen the movie.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, headed by Praveen Shetty, along with Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj led the protests outside several multiplexes in the city. The protests first began at Lido mall, followed by Orion and Mantri. After the arrest of both the leaders, the film was screened in few theatres. After they were released the two continued their protest starting from Mantri mall. Shetty told Deccan Chronicle that they have sent a request letter to the Deputy Chief Minister requesting him to support them and have also met the Home Minister.
"It is very unfortunate that we could not stop them from screening the movie as the police intervened and arrested us. But we shall continue our protest and try to stop them from screening the movie," he said while protesting outside the Mantri Mall on Thursday night. One of the protesters said that the owners of the multiplex had initially agreed not to screen the movie on Thursday morning. Trusting them they had ended their protest and moved to other theatres, but they later screened the film while we were in police custody. Vatal Nagaraj said that they have succeeded in stopping the film from screening in Mantri Mall and will be going to other theatres where they have screened or are planning to screen.
The pro-Kannada groups went from one cinema hall to other to ensure that all exhibitors fall in line. On Thursday morning, the Karnataka State Rajinikanth Fans Association, who had arranged for the 10 am show at Lido theatre on MG Road had to cancel the screening after the activists pressured the theatre manager to give into their demands. The protesters then moved to Mantri Mall in Malleshwaram and Orion Mall in Rajajinagar, where the multiplex screens were set to being the show at 10:30 am. However, the shows were cancelled following the protests. The single screens theatres too followed suit. Balaji Talkies in Vivek Nagar was forced to stop the screening by members of Karunada Seva Karu, who vandalized posters and banners on the theatre premises.
Few Shows held In Afternoon
While there were huge protest by pro-Kannada organisations in the morning, the situation eased by afternoon. After many protesters were detained by the police, Orion Mall in Rajaji Nagar screened the move around 2 p.m. By 4.p.m. two shows were screened and ticket sales were brisk for 3:05 pm show.
An employee of PVR Cinemas in Orion Mall said, "Early morning there were protests, but later the situation was under control and we screened the movie.”
Special force was deployed to ensure that no untoward incident take place. There was a heavy police deployment at Orion and Mantri malls to keep the protesters at bay.