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MNIK release a hit, packed houses in New Delhi, Orissa, Goa, WB, MP

Bajrang Dal activists tearing a poster of actor Shahrukh Khan’s film ‘My Name is Khan’ in Ahmedabad on Friday. (PTI)
Published on 13 Feb. 2010 12:29 AM IST
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Hundreds of thousands thronged cinema halls across India Friday to see Shah Rukh Khan’s “My Name is Khan”, with Mumbai too giving the thumbs down to the Shiv Sena that called for its boycott to protest the Bollywood megastar’s advocacy of Pakistani cricketers. Although all 63 theatres in Mumbai played it safe and cancelled the first show of the day, around 13 halls started showing the movie by noon, enabling cinema buffs to enjoy the heart warming story of Indian Muslim Rizwan Khan (SRK) in the post-9/11 US. Even as police scuffled with Shiv Sena activists outside some Mumbai theatres and halls in Pune and Aurangabad refused to touch the movie, most Shah Rukh fans across the country lauded “My Name is Khan”. Many in Mumbai, the Bollywood capital, felt that the Shiv Sena had erred in questioning Shah Rukh’s credentials as an Indian. “We are with Shah Rukh Khan. What the Sena is doing is absolutely wrong. In fact, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray should apologise to him for creating problems for him,” said a woman who came out of the Fun Republic cinema in Mumbai. Others challenged the Sena’s right to question Shah Rukh’s patriotism. “Who are they? He is an Indian, will always remain an Indian and we are all with him. Goondaism and terrorism will not work in this country. The Sena people should also go and watch this movie and they will learn a few lessons from it,” said a young man, Bipin Singh, at Nariman Point. To prove a point, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil and Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe purchased tickets and watched the movie at INOX cinema in south Mumbai. Barring one theatre in Dadar where the show was disrupted midway by Sainiks who had managed to get in, everywhere else the movie ran to packed houses but under heavy security. Shiv Sena protests took place in a dozen places. Most of them were arrested or detained. In Chembur, the police used batons to disperse a mob waving saffron flags and shouting slogans. Shah Rukh’s office in Bandra was stoned. Protests were also reported from Ahmedabad in Gujarat as well as Nagpur, Nashik, Ratnagiri, Sangri and Dhule in Maharashtra. Bajrang Dal activists tore up posters in Orissa’s Berhampur town, disrupting the film in three cinemas. Similar noisy protests forced a hall in Sambalpur town to cancel the show. In Goa’s capital Panaji, 21 Shiv Sena workers were arrested for protesting outside the INOX multiplex. Barring two theatres in Gwalior and Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh fans also welcomed “My Name Is Khan” with gusto. In Kolkata, enthusiastic crowds packed into cinemas. Bal Thackeray’s effigies were torched in several parts of the city as cine buffs queued up outside ticket counters. “My Name Is Khan” opened to packed houses in about 70 halls in New Delhi and its suburbs. There was no trouble barring one incident when some drunken men vandalised the Satyam Janak Place cinema in Janakpuri area. PVR Priya saw 80-90 percent occupancy and long queues. Meanwhile, Shah Rukh, Bollywood’s highest paid actor, has apologised to his fans for putting them through stress over the controversy clouding his film. “I thank you all for this... apologise for giving stress over the last few days... and now truly know the meaning of being humbled. Lov you all so much,” he posted on his twitter. According to industry sources, the phased global release of the film will have close to 2,000 prints. Delhi housewife Kaveri Jha said the hype around the film made more people watch the nearly three-hour movie. “It is out of curiosity that maximum people are coming to watch the film,” Jha told IANS at PVR Priya. Audiences hailed the film. “I loved it. Kajol and Shah Rukh look amazing together. It is quite refreshing to see them, and they have done a good job,” said Shobhita Sen, 18. Theatre owners were happy over business generated -- thanks in part to the Shiv Sena. “We are seeing around 90 percent occupancy in most shows,” Amit Awasthi of the Spice Cinemas chain told IANS. The Shiv Sena took on Shah Rukh after he said that Pakistani cricketers should have been selected for the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.

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