| Manisha Koirala talks to reporters in Mumbai. (Reuters)
Mumbai, Sept. 6: The Shiv Sena has succeeded in doing for Manisha Koirala what Bombay High Court could not.
After her second meeting within a week with Sena chief Bal Thackeray today, Shiv Sainiks across the city disrupted screenings of Ek Chhotisi Love Story, which was being shown with impunity by many theatres despite the high court stay.
Theatres half way through the first show suddenly pulled down shutters as rampaging hordes of Sainiks marched in and made bonfires of the posters.
As reported yesterday, the Sena had planned the disruptions “in the event of filmmaker Shashilal Nair going ahead with his plans to release the film”.
As the Sena protests gained momentum, all the halls in the city cancelled the shows, refunded money to viewers and postponed screenings till the final high court order. On the outskirts, however, some theatres went ahead with the screening, putting profits above caution.
After the high court yesterday stayed the release of the film till the next hearing on October 5, producer-director Nair told theatre-owners that the ban left out those 97 prints already in circulation. The ruling only meant that “no new prints would be released”, he said.
Leaving after her meeting with the Sena chief in the morning, a harried-looking Manisha said she had come to explain her stand and to thank Thackeray for his support.
The actress added that high-profile lawyer Satish Maneshinde had taken up her case against Nair at the behest of the Sena chief. “He (Thackeray) said he was with me in my fight against injustice, but asked me to take the legal route,’’ Manisha said.
Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam, who has taken up Manisha’s cause with much gusto and has been accompanying her to meetings with Thackeray, stressed that protests will not be violent. “Violent protests will change the focus of this fight, which is basically against sexual exploitation of women in the film industry,” Nirupam said.
Manisha now plans to move the high court praying that the 97 prints in circulation be seized and theatres across the country and abroad be stopped from screening the movie until further orders. Her lawyer added that legal action would be initiated for contempt of court and defamation against those theatres that went ahead with the screening today.
Taken aback by the strong Sena support to Manisha, Nair has also decided to approach Thackeray to explain his point of view. Still irreverent, the filmmaker said Sena’s protests only added to the film’s publicity. “Manisha doesn’t know the meaning of contempt and I will fight my case in the Supreme Court if needed.”
Unapologetic about the release of the film despite the court order restraining him, Nair said: “What can I do now' Ninety-seven prints of the film have already been released by my distributors to exhibitors all over the country. It is not in my hands to recall them.” Even the DVDs are out and a large number of people have seen the film.