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SC strikes down Padmaavat ban but cinema owners wary after threats to torch halls

Cinema and multiplex owners in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are worried about releasing Padmaavat despite the Supreme Court order on Thursday striking down the ban imposed on the film by four state governments saying they feared for the safety of the halls a nd the audience.

A number of organisations like Shree Rajput Karni Sena have threatened that they would disrupt the film's screening "using batons and petrol". Reportedly, none of the leading film distributors of Rajasthan are keen to get the cinema rights of screening the film in the state. The story is same in the other four states.

In Rajasthan, cinema hall owners are so scared of Karni Sena that they are not wishing to talk about the film on record. A Kota-based cinema hall owner told The Times of India, "Only a week is left for the release. It is not possible for any distributor to coordinate with 300 cinema screens and nearly 200 cinema hall owners to release the film. Even if a large number of policemen are deployed, the damage to the film is already done."

"Bhansali has insured the film, but cinema halls are not insured. SC has done its job, we will do ours," warned Chandra Shekhar Tiwari of Sanskriti Bachao Manch. In Ujjain, Shri Rajput Karni Sena gave a call for 'janata curfew' on the day of release and asked people not to watch the movie. "Can anyone screen the movie against the wishes of the state government?" asked Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi in Ujjain.

Most cinema hall owners in Patna have expressed their reluctance to screen the film. "The SC order notwithstanding, protests and threats are on. We do not want to take any risk," said manager of Mona cinema hall in Patna, Sharad Kumar. After the SC order on Thursday, Karni Sena members vandalised a cinema hall and tore the movie's posters in Muzaffarpur.

Owning responsibility for the vandalisation, Karni Sena's Bihar unit president Dhirendra Kumar said, "The SC has not given its verdict on the Ayodhya issue in decades, but passed an order on Pandmaavat in 7 hours."

Members of the Rajput community in Chhattisgarh threatened action against cinema halls where the film is released. Sarv Kshatriya Samaj chief Rakesh Singh said, "Community members will burn down cinemas that screen Padmaavat. No changes hereafter, we want complete ban."