Big rush to see Big B, utter chaos at PIFF opening

Unable to see Amitabh Bachchan in the flesh at inaugural show, film fest delegates stuck outside main hall demand their money back; event wrapped up abruptly after Big B and other dignitaries leave early.

The much-hyped opening ceremony of 10th chapter of Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) tuned into a complete fiasco as around 400 delegates, who were not able to see legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan in flesh and blood during the event, rose in rebellion against the organisers yesterday evening. 

They came, they saw, and they left early: Amitabh Bachchan 
arrives at the Pune Pride Multiplex yesterday.

Unhappy over the fact that they were forced to watch Amithabh's felicitation on multiplex screens -- and not in the main hall where the function was being organised -- the delegates started shouting slogans against the organisers. 

Asha Bhosale in conversation with Sachin at the PIFF felicitation 
ceremony. Pics/Vivek Sabnis.

Around 400 delegates were seen protesting and shouting slogans, demanding access to the main hall that was already packed to its capacity. Shyam Ambike, a delegate from Paud who came specially to see the luminaries such as Amitabh and Asha Bhosale. 

Push comes to shove: People unable to enter the jam-packed main 
hall try to push their way through.

"We have been cheated by the organisers. They should have done a better crowd management and hired a bigger hall for the inaugural function," added Ambike. Suddenly, the mob went berserk and broke into the entrance and forcefully made way to the main hall. "Sensing trouble, Bachchan quietly left the dais and came out of the City Pride Multiplex from the back gate. 

PiFFed off: Angry delegates protest outside the entrance of Screen No 
1 of City Pride Multiplex at Kothrud. 

Earlier, he saw the rampaging mob outside the entrance of the Screen No 1. He had taken a decision to leave the place immediately after his felicitation when a small film on Asha Bhosale was being screened," said an organiser, requesting anonymity. 

Following in Big B's footprints, the other celebrities, including Asha Bhosale, Illaiyaaraja and Rani Mukherjee, left even before Cultural Affairs Minister Sanjay Devtale, who presided over the function, could complete his speech. As the protesters refused to relent even after much persuasion, the organisers hurriedly wrapped up the show to avoid further embarrassment. 

This is for the first time in the history of the film festival when such a chaotic scene has unfolded during the event. Pravin Walimbe, public relations officer of the PIFF, stated that the capacity of Screen No 1 of the multiplex theatre was only 525 seats and 3,000 delegates had enrolled their names for PIFF screenings. 

Amar Pardeshi, head of Ganesh Kala Krida Manch (JKKM), PMC, said, "I really wonder why the PIFF organisers did not take JKKM. This is the biggest theatre in Asia and has a capacity of 2,700 spectators." 

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