Amidst tension, Rajinikanth's 'Kaala' opens partially in Karnataka
Amidst tight police presence yesterday, dozens of theaters and six multiplexes in Bengaluru finally screened Tamil superstar Rajinikanth's latest multilingual film 'Kaala'. There was suspense till 1PM, but after 300 protesters were detained, the theaters arranged a 2.35PM show. Kannada activists had asked for the film's boycott following the actor's pro-Tamil Nadu stance on the Cauvery river water-sharing issue.
'Karnataka should release Cauvery river water, new government or not'
The 67-year-old actor, who has recently forayed into politics, had said last month that Karnataka should release Cauvery water, irrespective of whichever government won. This comment irked leading Kannada activists like Vatal Nagaraj, Sa Ra Govindu and Praveen Shetty, who organized protests. To ensure calm, the Karnataka HC had ruled on Tuesday that the film be screened with adequate deployment of police forces.
'Cauvery water is more important than a Rajinikanth film'
"Cauvery water is more important than a Rajinikanth film for us. Our honor and Kannada pride are at stake. He (Rajinikanth) has hurt us by supporting the cause of Tamil Nadu in the sharing of the river water," said Karnataka Rakshana Vedike President Praveen Shetty.
Despite HC nod, theaters didn't screen 'Kaala', fearing protests
Even then, several theater managers, especially of the single-screen ones, were apprehensive, fearing damage to halls by protesters. Yesterday, some theaters in Ballari, Raichur, Mandya, Maddur and Anekal did try to screen the flick, but soon protests erupted and the shows were cancelled. The halls that did screen it yesterday didn't even reveal the next show timings till today morning.
Major loss for Rajni's fan-base, who were an agitated lot
Rajnikanth has a huge fan base in the state, hundreds of whom flocked to multiplexes such as Inox, PVR, Lido and Garuda since 8AM yesterday. They were agitated when instead of 'Kaala', some theaters screened the Hollywood film 'Jurassic World.' The most peaceful city during this time of agitation was probably Mangaluru, where more than 20 screens showed the film yesterday.
A similar protest seen during 'Padmaavat' release
Theater-managers are now relieved 'Kaala' is picking up steam, albeit gradually. This situation brings back memories of violent protests over 'Padmavaat,' which allegedly hurt Rajput sentiments. The protests by groups like Karni Sena not only led to widespread damage, but also caused deaths. The violence created an environment of nervousness among theater-owners and movie-watchers alike, most of whom now fear harm in such situations.
Some interesting facts about the movie 'Kaala'
Kaala is the first Indian film to be released in Saudi Arabia. The Mahindra Thar SUV used in the film's poster is now kept in Mahindra Research Valley in Chennai. Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra had requested the film's producer Dhanush for it in 2017.