There was heavy police deployment outside halls in other parts of the state screening the film. "The security around cinema halls has been increased. We will not let anyone take law in their hand," a senior police official said.
Tension was palpable across cinema halls in Uttar Pradesh where the controversial film “Padmaavat” opened today with armed policemen stationed at vantage points and fire tenders waiting in readiness in case of trouble. The Deepika Padukone-Shahid Kapoor-Ranveer Singh starrer has been facing protests by the Karni Sena and other fringe groups over allegations that it distorts history and defames their queen Padmavati. In the state capital, Lucknow, the film was screened at several theatres such as Novelty, Shubham and Pratibha though none reported ‘House Full’. “We expect a better turnout in the later shows. In the morning shows, the halls were not full because of two reasons – the cold and tension in the minds of people that the halls may be attacked by fringe groups objecting to the movie,” a hall manager said, requesting anonymity.
There was heavy police deployment outside halls in other parts of the state screening the film. “The security around cinema halls has been increased. We will not let anyone take law in their hand,” a senior police official said. He said an alert had been sounded in the state and all district police chiefs asked to remain vigilant. Forces are on standby to maintain law and order, he said. Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar has directed all district police chiefs to ensure that the force remains alert, especially at malls and cinema halls, with anti-riot gear. “Enough police force should be kept in reserve so that it can be deployed when needed. Local intelligence units should also be alerted to keep an eye of unscrupulous elements so that effective timely action is taken,” he said. All SHOs and senior officers were directed to patrol their areas and keep an eye on the situation to avoid untoward incidents.
“In view of (possible) dharnas, agitations, traffic jams, arson, all measures should be taken in advance and strict legal action should be initiated against those involved in such acts,” he said. Fearing violence and damage, cinema hall and multiplexes in Gorakhpur were, however, unwilling to screen the film. SRS Cinemas, for instance, in the town was scheduled to screen the movie but the manager decided not to do so after protests by Hindu organisations. Members of a fringe group, the Kanpur Kshatriya Mahasabha, yesterday announced a cash reward to anyone who chops off actor Deepika Padukone’s nose. Several activists staged protests outside two malls in Gomti Nagar area of the state capital. Police, however, managed to control the situation and detained a few activists. Leaders of the Rajput Karni Sena had met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday and demanded a ban on the film in the state. The film was originally slated for release on December 1. The Supreme Court paved the way for an all-India release on January 25 and stayed notifications and orders issued by Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat – all ruled by the BJP -prohibiting exhibition of the film. The apex court had also restrained other states from issuing any notification or order banning the screening of the movie.