Theatre owners here are chary about releasing Ram Charan Teja-starrer Zanjeer and its Telugu version Thoofan Friday despite an order by Andhra Pradesh High Court directing police to provide security for the smooth release and screening of the movies.
Ram Charan is the son of Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi.
The movie is likely to face roadblocks in Andhra Pradesh, which is currently witnessing political turmoil over the decision to carve out separate Telangana state.
Over the last one month, not even a single big-budget Telugu film managed to release in the state. Even films like Yevadu also featuring Ram Charan and Attarintiki Daaredhi, featuring Chiranjeevi's younger brother Pawan Kalyan, had to be postponed to a further unknown date.
"The release of Zanjeer still appears unlikely as most theatres are not willing to screen the film. They fear protestors might damage their property if the film is screened. Even with police protection, it’s not easy to maintain law and order across hundreds of theatres in the state,” trade analyst Trinath said.
A theatre owner said: "We are forced to shut down business and support the ongoing movement. Most theatres here are yet to take a call on whether to screen the film or not. Having just a few policemen on patrol in the theatre premises will not make much of a difference."
While most theatres in Hyderabad have started bookings for "Zanjeer", others in other parts of the state are yet to open.
"The region wise distributors are to decide whether to exhibit the film or not. Following the state's bifurcation, we fear the film might face problems both in Telangana and Seemandhra. We have to wait till evening to have more clarity on this issue," M Vijayendar Prasad, president, Telangana Film Chamber of Commerce, said.
Meanwhile, in other regions such as Tirupati and Vijayawada, groups belonging to Seemandhra have been threatening to stall the film from releasing.
According to K Sivaprasad, a member Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce, theatres have to take the final call on releasing the film.
"We are not stopping the film's release. The theatres have to take the final call. The only way to ensure smooth release is beef up the security," he added.
The film trade in Andhra Pradesh is divided territory wise. While Telangana comprises of Ceded and Nizam districts, Andhra comprises of coastal Andhra region. However, every big ticket Telugu film’s major chunk of box-office collection comes from Telangana region.
"Telangana may have only ten districts, but they are very important from a big-budget film’s perspective because it helps reap films gold at the box-office. While Andhra region is equally important, but since 'Zanjeer' is facing hassles from both parts of the state, its release is doubtful,” said Trinath.
Ram Charan makes his Bollywood debut with Zanjeer, directed by Apoorva Lakhia.
The movie, which is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name, is being targeted by the Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC) after Chiranjeevi’s plan to pitch for Hyderabad as a union territory was not received well.
Groups in Seemandhra have threatened to disrupt screening of the film due to Chiranjeevi's failure to oppose strongly the proposed bifurcation of the state.
“We won’t allow the release of films which star members of Chiranjeevi’s family in the state,” said a statement from OUJAC a couple of weeks back.
Zanjeer also features Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Raj, Sri Hari, Sanjay Dutt, Mahie Gill and Tanikella Bharani in important roles.