Extra security for Shah Rukh movie screening

Policemen try to restrain Shiv Sena activists protesting outside Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan's residence, unseen, in Mumbai. (AP)

Security will be increased at cinemas for the Indian release of the latest Shah Rukh Khan film My name is Khan after a row between the actor-producer and a hardline Hindu nationalist party, police said yesterday.

Mumbai police's Joint Commissioner for Law and Order, Himanshu Roy, said officers could be deployed to the 63 theatres in the city showing the film, while checks will be made on cinema-goers. "We will provide the security as long as it is required," he told a news conference in the city after meeting multiplex owners concerned about possible attacks by activists from the Shiv Sena organisation.

"There will be a high-level of frisking and personal checking before they are allowed to enter into theatres," he added, but refused to go into exact details about the security arrangements.

My name is Khan – about a man with Asperger's syndrome living in San Francisco who falls in love with a Hindu woman against the backdrop of the fallout from the September 11, 2001 attacks, hits screens on Friday.

The release has been overshadowed by the Shiv Sena's objections to Khan's comments regretting the absence of any Pakistan players in the forthcoming IPL Twenty20 cricket tournament, which begins next month.

Khan's parents were born in what is now Pakistan and he part-owns IPL outfit the Kolkata Knight Riders. Shiv Sena has been a self-styled promoter of Maharashtrian pride for nearly four decades, championing the rights of people from the western Indian state over 'outsiders' and the local language Marathi, often with violence. The organisation sees itself as a defender of traditional Hindu moral values.

Last November, activists defaced posters for the film Kurbaan (sacrifice) that showed actress Kareena Kapoor from behind and apparently naked from the waist up.

Previous targets have included Mumbai-born cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar – for saying he was proud of his roots but was Indian first – and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan after his wife said she preferred to speak Hindi. A campaign was also launched against Peshawar-born screen legend Dilip Kumar when he received Pakistan's highest civilian award.

The Shiv Sena has threatened to target Australian cricketers playing in IPL because of a series of attacks on Indian students Down Under.

Khan has so far refused to apologise for backing the participation of Pakistan players in the IPL and questions about his patriotism.

 

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