The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Courage, in the face of ban and bombs
Gujarat theatre opens door to Fanaa

Ahmedabad, June 6: A cinema owner in Jamnagar has defied the unofficial ban on Fanaa in Gujarat, becoming the first to show the Aamir Khan-starrer in the state.

Ambar theatre, the biggest single-screen cinema in the Saurashtra region with 1,164 seats, will screen three shows daily. The first show at 3.30 pm today drew a 350-strong audience even as some BJP workers staged a protest outside.

“I’m a businessman and my decision to screen the film is purely a business decision. I have nothing to do with party politics and any controversy,” said theatre owner Vimal Maadam.

Cinema owners ' both multiplexes and single-screen theatres ' had decided not to show the film after Aamir spoke out for rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar dam oustees. The BJP and the VHP had come down on the actor, demanding an apology that he refused to give. A VHP hand was suspected in the blackout.

In Ahmedabad today, a spokesperson for the multiplex owners’ association and the president of the cinema exhibitors’ association said Maadam is a Congressman and not an association member. “It is his individual decision to screen the film. As far as we are concerned, we are not going to screen Fanaa,” said Chirag Shah and Harish Patel, who represent 22 multiplexes and 426 single-screen cinemas.

The BJP youth wing national general secretary, Amit Thaker, described Maadam’s decision as “unfortunate”. “It is also unfortunate because that person happens to be a Congressman. While the Congress party is pro-Narmada, one of its members in Jamnagar, who happens to be a theatre owner, decided to defy the ban, which amounts to supporting Medha Patkar and Aamir Khan, who are anti- Gujarat,” he said.

But he also held up the defiance as proof “that we have not forced anyone in the state not to exhibit the film”. “There is no ban as such. It’s people’s resentment against Aamir Khan because he joined hands with Medha Patkar,” he said.

Maadam, who calls himself a “businessman and a hotelier”, said he wanted to screen the film the day it was released nationwide ' May 26 ' but could not as the print was not available. He got the print this morning, the theatre owner said.

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