Allies Shiv Sena and the Republican Party of India staged noisy protests on Thursday outside celebrity author Shobhaa De’s residence, after she attacked a move to force multiplexes to show Marathi movies in the prime time slot.
Coming hours apart, activists of both parties carried banners as well as trays laden with ‘vada-pav’, ‘misal’, ‘dahi-misal’, ‘vadi’ - the favourite snacks of Mumbaikars and Maharashtrians - and raised slogans against De.
The protesters condemned De’s comments opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government’s diktat to all multiplexes in Maharashtra to daily exhibit Marathi movies between 6-9 p.m.
Police personnel deployed in large numbers outside De’s residence in the upmarket Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai prevented the political activists from entering the building premises.
Later, they rounded up around two dozen activists of both parties and detained them.
De, who accepted the snacks from the protesters, told journalists that she was overwhelmed by the support she received for her tweets on the social media and elsewhere.
On the protests, she said she was not at all worried.
“I have full faith in Mumbai Police... Police barricades are up... I am feeling perfectly calm and safe... Thank You, Mumbai Police. “I will not be a party to this sort of politics. I will take legal advice and take action as per the law,” she later tweeted.
Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik has sought an apology and moved a notice for breach of privilege in the assembly.
Sarnaik accused De of “insulting the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and the people of the state”.
The party regretted that words like ‘Dadagiri’ were uttered by De, who is also a Maharashtrian, and she wanted freedom to decide when and where to watch Marathi movies.
“She also wondered whether now only vada-pav and misal would be available in multiplexes instead of popcorn... Shabaash! A great way to repay the people of the state where you were born! It was understandable if someone else had made remarks, but a Marathi woman doing it is regretful,” the Shiv Sena said in a sharp edit in the party mouthpiece Saamana on Thursday.
Taking a dig at De’s ‘Dadagiri’, the Sena pointed out that in the past if Chhatrapati Shivaji and the late party founder Bal Thackeray had not shown ‘dadagiri’, all of Shobha aunty’s predecessors and descendents would be born in Pakistan and probably attended Page 3 parties sporting ‘burqas’!
De on Wednesday tweeted: “Now a privilege motion demanding an apology from me? Come on! I am a proud Maharashtrian and love Marathi films. Always have. Always will!” “No more pop corn at multiplexes in Mumbai? Dahi missal and vada pav only. To go better with the Marathi movies at prime time,” De later tweeted.
On April 7, De’s tweets were: “Devendra Fadnavis is at it again!!! From beef to movies. This is not the Maharashtra we all love! Nako! Nako! Yeh sab roko! I love Marathi movies. Let me decide when and where to watch them, Devendra Fadnavis. This is nothing but Dadagiri.”
Meanwhile, in a related development, a delegation of prominent Marathi film producers and directors called on Culture Minister Vinod Tawde in Mantralaya and lauded the government’s proposal.