Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani faced protests from activists of BJP and right wing outfits in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat on the opening day of their release today with several theatres forced to cancel their screenings.
Scores of activists from the outfits like Hindu Sena and Hindu Mitra Mandal were detained in connection with their protests for separate reasons.
The protesters raised slogans like "Shah Rukh Khan murdabad" in the backdrop of his comments last month that intolerance was rising in the country amid a raging debate on the issue. The superstar has since said he does not believe there is intolerance in the country, clarifying that his earlier comments on the issue were misconstrued.
BJP activists staged protest demonstrations against Bajirao Mastani in Pune, forcing a multiplex cinema house to cancel all shows of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus.
They alleged that the story line of Bajirao Mastani has "distorted" historical facts of the era of Peshwa rule, forcing 'Citypride' cinema house to cancel all the shows.
In Mumbai, about five activists of the Hindu Sena were detained after they tried to storm into a mall in Dadar and threatened to stall the shows of Rohit Shetty's Dilwale, also starring Kajol and Varun Dhawan. However, the protesters were stopped by the policemen, deployed there in large numbers anticipating trouble.
In MP, the release of Dilwale was marred by protests from right wing groups in different districts, including three big cities of Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur.
The protesters tore off the posters of the film, stormed into theatres and stopped its screening at three cinema halls in Jabalpur district.
The activists also stalled the screening at two theatres in Shivpuri district and protested in front of another cinema hall there.
In Bhopal, the Hindu Mitra Mandal activists led by its chief Kapil Jadhav protested in front of Jyoti Talkies.
A similar protest was staged at two cinema halls in Indore.
Hind Rashtra Sanghatan head Rajesh Shirodkar was arrested for breaching peace in Indore, police said.
In Gujarat, protests were witnessed in Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehasana after which fearing damage to their properties a couple of theatres stopped screening of the film for the day.
Posters also appeared urging people to boycott the film as a mark of protest against SRK's comments.
The NCP condemned the protests against Bajirao Mastani, saying if the BJP has any reservations about the content of the film it should have approached the Censor Board. Bajirao Mastani, a historical romance film produced and directed by Bhansali, narrates the story of the Maratha warrior Peshwa Bajirao I and his second wife Mastani.
While Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone play the eponymous roles, Priyanka will be seen in the role of Bajirao's first wife Kashibai.
In Ahmedabad, protests were held on Sarkhej- Gandhinagar highway opposite PVR multiplex, and in Raipur area in front of City pulse multiplexes.
Protests were also held at various places in the city against single screen theaters like in Maninagar and CTM mill area following which police detained 16 people.
Gaurang Vyas of Om group which protested in Ahmedabad against Shahrukh Khan, said, that film star made "anti-national" remarks which is why they want people to boycott his film.
High police presence was seen at multiplexes and theatres, stopping protesters from damaging property.
Twelve protesters were detained in Surat when they staged the protest in Piplaod area of the city against Shahrukh Khan, police inspector G.A.Sarviya said.
In Mehasana, BJP youth wing workers staged protest at Wide Angle multiplex against the actor. "We have stopped the screening of Dilwale for a day as we want to avoid damage to our property," Amit Acharya manager of Wide Angle said.
Hearing a petition alleging Bajirao Mastani twisted historical facts pertaining to late King Shrimant Bajirao Peshwe, the Bombay High today refused to grant a stay on the release of the film.
The Court asked the respondents to file a complaint within a week. They included Maharashtra Government, Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification, producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and three lead actors --Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone.
The petitioner, Pune-based activist Hemant Patil, said the film distorted history and took objection especially to a song in it, saying it incorrectly portrays the characters of the Bajirao and his wives.
"The film is an insult to the glorious history of Bajirao Peshwa and a total misrepresentation of his personality. It is just and necessary to prevent such film makers from imaginary and fictitious films on historic persons as it may hurt the sentiments of people," Patil contended.