Guwahati: Film exhibitors ready to release 'Pathaan' despite Bajrang Dal fury
Poster of the movie Pathaan

Guwahati: Despite the vehement protest by ‘Bajrang Dal’ activists concerning the screening of Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone-starrer ‘Pathan’ in Guwahati, the film exhibitors here are firm in their decision to release the movie.

On Friday, Bajrang Dal activists gathered in front of Gold Digital Cinema Hall in Guwahati’s Narengi area and vandalised and burned posters of the movie and also shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.

The film is slated to hit the theatre on Wednesday.

“Once a film is given a certificate by the Central Board, we are free to run it and since Pathaan has been cleared, it will be screened here,” Chinmoy Sarma, owner of Anuradha Cineplex in the city and president of the Assam Cinema Hall Owners’ Association, told EastMojo.

He further added, “Personnel from the local police station came to meet us. They assured us that in case of any disturbance, they will be here to take care of any untoward situation.”

Bajrang Dal activists burn Pathaan posters in Guwahati

There are many who feel that the controversy surrounding the film, in fact, might be working to Pathaan’s advantage. Of the 22 showings scheduled at PVR in Christian Basti’s City Centre mall on its opening day, nearly all have been sold out.

“Although some sections of society are angered by the film, there are many who have bought into the hype, hence tickets for the movie are selling like hotcakes,” says Arun Chandra Nath, manager of Matrix Cinemas.

“Anticipation is through the roof and business appears to be on par with pre-pandemic levels. All the showings have been booked in advance, just like Avatar: The Way of Water’, which broke several records,” he said.

The film distributors in Guwahati breathed a sigh of relief after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma spoke to Shah Rukh Khan over the phone, assuring that he would ensure an incident-free run for the film.

Moments after claiming that he does not know who Shah Rukh Khan is while talking to media persons in the city on Friday, Sarma took to Twitter to announce: “Shri Shah Rukh Khan called me and we talked today morning at 2 am. He expressed concern about an incident in Guwahati during the screening of his film. I assured him that it’s the duty of the state govt to maintain law & order. We’ll enquire and ensure no such untoward incidents.”

Speaking to the media a day after the vandalism outside the cinema hall, Sarma made national headlines when he said “Who is Shah Rukh Khan? Why should we worry about it, we have so many Shah Rukh Khans here.” Sarma had instead urged people to watch the upcoming Assamese movie ‘Dr Bezbaruah 2’.

A day later, he informed the media: “Shah Rukh Khan called me and informed me who he was and we talked over the phone. He said there should be no trouble while his film is being screened. I asked him the name of the film and he said it was ‘Pathaan’. I said I would take care of the security arrangements.”

Pathaan poster outside Matrix Cinemas in Guwahati

The chief minister said there are no provisions in the law to punish someone for simply destroying film posters. “So many of my own posters are damaged by protesters. Has anybody from the press ever asked for action against those miscreants?” Biswa Sarma said on being asked whether action would be taken against the right-wing activists.

Meanwhile, members of Bajrang Dal, who organised the protest, are yet to be traced. “The journalists who recorded the footage do not know who the miscreants are. Moreover, the faces seen in the video are yet to be identified. They simply fled after the vandalism,” a resident of Narengi said.

Biswa Sarma’s comments on ‘Pathaan’ came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised party workers to avoid making “unnecessary remarks” about films. The Prime Minister made his appeal after several BJP leaders across the country issued calls to boycott the film.

The ‘Besharam Rang’ song in the film, which shows actor Deepika Padukone donning a saffron bikini, has not gone down well with some sections of society, including BJP leaders.

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