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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Padmaavat: Countdown begins amid hope, fear and excitement

Mumbai: Protests and threats of violence may have made things tough for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, but trade pundits, exhibitors, and even the audiences are excited to watch the much-awaited period drama in the theatres.

Owing to historical “inaccuracies” in Padmaavat that is headlined by Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh – states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana had initially called for a ban on the film.

But, much to the relief of the filmmaker and the distributors, the Supreme Court, earlier this week, allowed a country-wide release of the controversial movie on 25 January.

“There may be problems in certain parts of India. We have requested and advised exhibitors to approach police authorities to safeguard their property and the lives of the audience coming to the theatres.

“We don’t know their (protesters) line of action. So we have told the exhibitors to take note of the scenario and take decisions to screen the film in their areas accordingly,” Nitin Dhar, former president and member of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, said.

Dhar said the association has also written a letter to the home minister and the chief ministers of a few states requesting adequate security arrangements.

“We understand that it is not possible to control so many cinema halls and other properties like shops, vehicles, etc but we have faith in the law enforcement agencies,” he added.

The association, which covers states like Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra, and parts of Karnataka, has over 500 theatres under its ambit.

With advance booking on the way for Padmaavat, Dhar believes the movie will do well.

Looking at the advance booking, the trade circle is hopeful that a decent number of people will turn up to watch the lavishly mounted magnum opus on the celluloid.

“There is a strong buzz about the film. The response to advance booking is good. At the moment, select shows are open and going by that, the occupancy in the theatres should be over 65%.

“The cinema houses, too, seem ready with the security plan,” Girish Wankhede, a trade analyst said.

Akshay Rathi, exhibitor, and distributor, is in the middle of negotiations, locking the programming and bookings for the film.

“The paid preview is happening on 24 January in IMAX 3D. The momentum built up by Tiger Zinda Hai will be carried forward by Padmaavat when it comes out on 25 January.

“The advance booking looks good and there is a great amount of anticipation for the film. We all have faith in the law enforcement agencies and are hopeful the situation will be taken care of,” he said.

Rathi, hopes, the film will open to 75% occupancy in over 4,000 screens across India.

Padmaavat will be shown at the popular multiplex chain, PVR cinemas, that has 612 screens across the country, but senior officials are unwilling to divulge any details.

“It is too early to speak about anything at the moment (advance booking response). We don’t want to make a comment (on security at PVR),” Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures said.

At single screen theatres too, the excitement is high.

“People are coming with enquiries on Padmaavat. We will be showing the film in Gaiety, Galaxy, Maratha Mandir and other theatres. We are hopeful the government and policemen will ensure a safe and secure environment for the audiences,” said Manoj Desai, executive director of the theatres, said.

The film, initially titled Padmavati, was slated to release on 1 December last year but was postponed as the makers were yet to get a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).


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