It seems as if, after the infamous Padmavati episode, it is the turn of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif’s Tiger Zinda Hai to be embroiled in a controversy. Ahead of the film’s release on December 22, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has raised their voice claiming that Marathi movies have found negligible number of screens. The Shiv Sena has also echoed MNS’s opinion about Marathi films’ loss of screens.
Reportedly, Tiger Zinda Hai producers have booked five shows across all multiplexes and single screens across Mumbai. This has left Marathi movies like Deva and Ek Atrangi with negligible screens. MNS Chitrapat Sena leader, Shalini Thackeray, said that the party will oppose the Hindi film industry if the screening of TZH takes place at the expense of Marathi films. She stated that big-budget star releases shouldn’t overshadow regional films and affect their earnings.
“Marathi films must be given prime time shows. Deva wasn’t given screen space against Tiger Zinda Hai. If Hindi film industry takes screen space at expense of Marathi films, we’ll oppose it. We haven’t threatened anyone, we want screen space for Deva,” Shalini told ANI. “We never said that Tiger Zinda Hai should be replaced by Deva. But we are asking that Deva should be given enough time slots. Maharashtra will not allow any movement against Marathi people. Cineplex owners have to abide by our demand. You call it a threat, then let it be,” she added.
In a letter sent to Yash Raj Films and the producers of Tiger Zinda Hai, MNS film division head Amey Khopkar stated that the party won’t oppose the movie if they would give Deva the required screen space. He has warned that if that fails to happen, the party won’t allow shooting in the future. Khopkar told ANI, “If they’re ready to give screen space to Marathi Films, Deva in this case, then there is no need for us opposing it. However, if they don’t, we won’t allow it to shoot hereafter in Maharashtra.”
In a letter to theater owners, Khopkar wrote, “You have probably forgotten that you are running a cinema theater in the land of Maharashtra. We are compelled to write to you to remind that our sentiments have been hurt.”
He added, “Using their name and influence, the producers have captured all the theaters. What will the other filmmakers do? Where will they go? If the Hindi filmmakers do such monopoly, what will the Marathi filmmakers do? Will other states tolerate such ‘dadagiri’? It is our duty to give rights to Marathi films and for that we shall do whatever it takes. Just because we are patient and understanding, doesn’t mean we are weak. Believe in ‘live and let live’. If you don’t understand this language then we will have to use our ‘special’ language to make you understand.”
While talking to India Today, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “These big fishes (Tiger Zinda Hai) are trying to eat small ones. This dadagiri is done only in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Those who are doing this should remember that Shiv Sena’s tiger too is zinda (alive).” Earlier too, Shiv Sena and MNS had joined hands while revolting against Pakistani actors working in Bollywood.
In an MNS press conference, Ankush Chaudhari who plays the lead in Deva said, “We want people to watch our film as well as Tiger Zinda Hai. I too am a Salman Khan fan and I don’t think any film should suffer. But in the current scenario, Deva is not getting screens and that’s why we approached the MNS which has been crusading for Marathi cinema over the years.”
Issuing a warning to YRF, Amey said that if their demands aren’t met, they would resort to other means. He said, “Deva will release on December 22 for sure. Whether to make this a peaceful discussion or compel us to resort to other means is up to YRF to decide.”
While a storm brews over screening of films, fans are hoping the action is seen only on screens.