Mumbai: In a relief of sorts for Bollywood producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Tuesday said it would maintain a vigil outside cinemas where the controversial film 'Padmaavat' is slated for release.
MNS General Secretary Shalini Thackeray said that if the Supreme Court and the Central Board of Film Certification have cleared the film, "it is wrong to protest against its release".
Thackeray, also the Executive President of the Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (MNCKS), reiterated that the party will ensure there are no obstacles to the film's release and screening in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra.
"However, if anybody tried to prevent 'Padmaavat' release in Mumbai or Maharashtra, the MNS is capable of protecting the film director, artistes, and the crew," Thackeray asserted.
Last fortnight, the party had announced that it had no objections to the film's release (set for January 25) and said filmmakers were entitled to freedom of creative expression.
She said that despite the apex court's clear directives to release it in all states, in some states like Gujarat, there is no sign it will be exhibited as theatre and multiplex owners fear violence and losses as the Karni Sena is unnecessarily opposing the film.
"The country's Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) hails from that state. If law and order cannot be maintained in that state, we can understand the kind of alarming situation that prevails there and in other Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states like Rajasthan, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh," Thackeray said.
In a related development, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) President Nitin Datar said so far it's not clear in how many single-screen theatres or multiplexes the film is likely to be released.
"We have already written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to provide adequate security to cinemas screening the film. Also, we have advised all cinema owners to seek security from their local police, wherever they plan to exhibit the film," Datar told IANS.
Cinema and multiplex owners in Mumbai have remained non-committal on the response to advance bookings and declined to comment on how many shows or number of days they are likely to exhibit 'Padmaavat'.