Shah Rukh Khan calls Assam CM about Pathaan release, gets security assurance
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday gave actor Shah Rukh Khan an assurance about law and order during the screening of his upcoming movie Pathaan, whose posters were torn by Bajrang Dal activists in Guwahati on Friday night.
Sarma tweeted that he gave the assurance when the actor called him at 2am on Sunday to express concern at the incident. Sangh parivar outfits have demanded a nationwide ban on the film, due for worldwide release on January 25, saying it has hurt Hindu sentiments.
“Bollywood actor Shri @iamsrk called me and we talked today morning at 2 am. He expressed concern about an incident in Guwahati during screening of his film,” BJP chief minister Sarma wrote.
Bollywood actor Shri @iamsrk called me and we talked today morning at 2 am. He expressed concern about an incident in Guwahati during screening of his film. I assured him that it’s duty of state govt to maintain law & order. We’ll enquire and ensure no such untoward incidents.— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) January 22, 2023
“I assured him that it’s duty of state govt to maintain law & order. We’ll enquire and ensure no such untoward incidents.”
A Bajrang Dal group had torn and burnt roadside posters of the movie in front of a cinema here.
On Saturday, however, Sarma had dismissed reporters’ questions on the subject saying: “Who is Shah Rukh Khan? I don’t know anything about him or the film Pathaan,” PTI reported.
“Khan has not called me, though many from Bollywood do so, regarding the problem. But if he does, I will look into the matter,” Sarma was quoted as saying. “Action will be taken if law and order has been violated and a case has been filed.”
When reporters said Shah Rukh was a Bollywood superstar, Sarma said that people of the state should be concerned about Assamese films and not Hindi films.
Pathaan, featuring Shah Rukh, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, has been a subject of controversy since December after a minister from BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh objected to a song featuring Deepika in a saffron bikini.
Guwahati district Bajrang Dal leader S. Gogoi had said on Saturday that the outfit would not disrupt screenings of the film but might lodge FIRs against those showing it.
A Bajrang Dal member said on Sunday there would be no problems with the film if the “objectionable parts” were deleted.
The film is likely to be shown across 75 standalone halls and multiplexes in the Northeast, of which 55 are in Assam.
“There is huge curiosity about the action-thriller, which marks Shah Rukh’s return after four years. It will be screened across 20 screens in Guwahati but everything depends on the law-and-order situation,” a film distributor said.
Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the parent organisation of the Bajrang Dal, barged into a movie theatre in Surat city in Gujarat and tore posters of Pathaan, police said on Sunday, according to PTI.
Five people have been arrested on the charge of rioting following Saturday evening’s vandalism at Rupali cinema in the Rander locality, an officer said.
Multiplex owners in Gujarat had recently met junior home minister Harsh Sanghavi, who had promised police protection to theatres.
In a letter to Sanghavi, the Multiplex Association of Gujarat said: “The right forum for anybody having reservation or objection about the movie would be either official authorities or the Government of India or courts because the movie has been given clearance by the Censor Board.”
Many groups are “illegally targeting cinema exhibitors based on their own understanding and agendas”, it said.