Youngsters descended on movie halls in droves across Bathinda, the stronghold of the ruling Badals, besides other cities such as Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.
Though Bathinda cinema halls witnessed low occupancy in the first show starting at 9.30 am, they ran housefull in the subsequent screenings. “The first show witnessed just 40% occupancy, but the subsequent ones more than made up for it,” said Sandeep Bansal, duty officer at Big Cinemas.
Though the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal objected to Udta Punjab, CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son – deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal – said they wouldn’t judge the movie without watching it first.
While some viewers found Udta Punjab “close to reality”, others took exception to the use of explicit language in the movie. However, there seemed to be a general consensus that it was a “must watch”.
SAD general secretary (Jalandhar unit) Makhan Singh said though the movie depicted the drug scenario in an apt fashion, Punjab should not have been specifically targeted. “However, nowhere in the movie do they pointedly target any particular leader or party. I will be happy if the film wins an Oscar,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hindutva groups held protests outside Omaxe Mall in Patiala on Friday. Harish Singla, who led the protest, said: “The film depicts Punjab in a wrong way. It seems to say that the entire state is in the grip of drugs.” Mohali also witnessed demonstrations.
The film, however, did not seem to have performed as well outside Punjab. “The opening was average. The film may collect around `8 to 9 crore on its first day, which is far below our expectations,” said Rajesh Thadani, a Mumbai film distributor.