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HC Asks Karnataka Govt to Ensure Security for Theatres Screening Rajinikanth's Kaala, Kumaraswamy Sides With Boycott

Ahead of its release this week, whether the movie will be screened here or not is still unknown as threats by pro-Kannada groups continue against the movie's release.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:June 6, 2018, 7:49 AM IST
HC Asks Karnataka Govt to Ensure Security for Theatres Screening Rajinikanth's Kaala, Kumaraswamy Sides With Boycott
Rajinikanth plays the role of a slumlord-turned-gangster in Kaala.

Bengaluru: As the Karnataka High Court refused to intervene in the matter of Rajinikanth’s ‘Kaala’ being released in Karnataka, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he will implement the directives, but the distributors should not release the film considering the sentiments against it.

"As head of the Karnataka government, I have to implement the direction of the High Court, it is my responsibility but according to my observations as an individual, in this kind of atmosphere, it isn't good on the part of producer or distributor to release the movie," he told newspersons after meeting with pro-Kannada activists who have threatened protests on June 7, the day of the film’s release.

The fate of Rajinikanth-starrer 'Kaala' still hangs in the balance in Karnataka despite the Advocate General's assurances to the High Court on Tuesday that adequate security will be provided to the theatres that want to screen the film.

Ahead of its release this week, whether the movie will be screened here or not is still unknown as threats by pro-Kannada groups continue against the movie's release. The state government's cold response to the film's release has not helped it much.

With a budget of Rs 140 crore, 'Kaala' is set to hit the theatres on Thursday, but pro-Kannada groups have called for a ban on its release in Karnataka over Rajinikanth’s comments on the Cauvery water distribution issue. Distributors and theatre owners had also decided not to release the film considering the “sentiments” of the Kannada people.

Rajinikanth, who recently joined politics in Tamil Nadu, had said that the Supreme Court's order on the Cauvery water-sharing dispute must be adhered by and Karnataka should release Tamil Nadu’s share of water. This, coupled with the fact that the superstar himself spent the first 20 years of his life in Bengaluru before joining the Tamil film industry, has left many in Karnataka angry over his 'loyalties'.

Kannada groups have even threatened to hold demonstrations so that the movie is not released in the state. Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha have already announced demonstrations in the heart of the city on June 7.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce -- the umbrella forum of producers, distributors, exhibitors and actors -- held many rounds of meetings with distributors and theatre owners.

Last week, the KFCC announced that distributor 'Goldie Films' had "voluntarily" stepped back from distributing the film in Karnataka, willing to digest the huge loss they would incur for the “greater good of Karnataka”. Likewise, theatre-owners, too, had said that they would "voluntarily" not release ‘Kaala’ though while with chances likely of protesters disrupting screenings.

On Tuesday, the Karnataka High Court heard detailed arguments on a writ petition filed by the film's producer Wunderbar Films, which had sought government intervention against the restrictions imposed by the film chamber.

But since the chamber has not officially 'banned' the film (calling it a 'voluntary' response of the distributor and the theatre owners), the High Court refused to intervene. The court told the Advocate General to ensure security to those theatres that would screen the film. The AG wanted the producers to send out a list of theatres where security should be extended to facilitate the screening.

A couple of hours later, film chamber president Sa. Ra. Govindu, a pro-Kannada activist himself, said that as the president of the chamber, he won't stop the film's release, but as an activist, he was against it.

Govindu, along with other members of the organization met Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to discuss the matter on Tuesday.

The pro-Kannada activists have said that they are not to be held responsible for whatever happens once theatre owners go ahead with the film's release — a statement being seen as a covert threat of possible violence.

Kumaraswamy’s response was almost on the similar lines as them.

His statement was hardly reassuring. While Rajinikanth fans rejoiced over the High Court's directive, they were not so sure of what to make of it at the end of the day.

Theatres that have traditionally been running full houses on the opening day for Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan movies and sometimes screen as many as five or six shows, are yet to start with the bookings. They said that they were undecided on whether to go ahead with the screening or not.

'Rajini' Santosh, president of the Rajini Fans' Association, said they had given a memorandum to the Chief Minister and KFCC, pleading with them to not mix up the film issue that of the Cauvery water dispute.

"We are happy with the High Court's directive to ensure security. This is just a movie, it should not be mixed with the inter-state issues and it should be screened," Santosh told News18.

With about 48 hours for the film’s release, time is running out for theatre owners to come to a conclusion on whether to go ahead with the release or black out 'Kaala' for the time-being. Of course, Hosur town in Tamil Nadu, just across the border may end up being the go-to place for die-hard fans as it is just a two-hour drive from Bengaluru.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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