Theatre owners in Mumbai have objected to the Maharashtra government’s order to single screens and multiplexes to screen the film Uri: The Surgical Strike free of cost to commemorate Kargil Vijay Diwas on July 26, The Times of India reported on Thursday.
The film is based on the 2016 Indian Army’s “surgical strikes on terror launchpads” across the Line of Control. The strikes followed an attack on an Army base in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed.
To mark Kargil Diwas, which commemorates the day on which Indian troops recaptured positions that had been occupied by Pakistan in 1999, the Maharashtra government has planned special shows of the film at more than 500 screens across the state to “propagate nationalism”, PTI reported.
The state government had directed multiplex owners to make arrangements with distributors to screen the film and submit seating capacity of their morning shows to the district collector by Thursday morning, according to The Times of India.
Theatre owners in Mumbai and Pune confirmed that they had received the order. “We have been instructed to screen Uri free of cost at 10 am for college students who arrive with identity cards, as well as for former defence personnel,” said Manoj Desai, executive director of G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir. Desai said the letter stated that screening the film was an initiative taken by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to motivate youngsters to join the defence forces.
“We are also ‘deshbhakts’ [patriots],” said Desai. “But is this the proper way [for the authorities] to enforce ‘deshbhakti’?”
Desai said he was liable to forfeit his theatre licence if he allows a person to enter without a ticket. He demanded to know who would pay the electricity bill for lights and air-conditioning, while noting that that the government levies GST on film screenings.
Mumbai suburban Collector Milind Borikar told The Times of India that education officers were asking colleges to send students to watch the film on Friday. “It is our national duty to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers and celebrate the victory,” Borikar said. “As for the issue of GST recovery, we will discuss the matter with the government as it is for them to take a policy decision.”
Prakash Chapalkar, general secretary of Multiplex Association of India, denied that all halls at multiplexes have to be allotted for the 10 am show of the film. “Just one screen must be reserved,” Chapalkar said. “We have decided to not object as this is the first time the government has made such a request.”