New Delhi, June 19 (Calcutta Tube) Huge crowds are a welcome sight for any star. But their joy can soon turn into a nightmare if the venue is not chosen carefully as is often the case in India. Shopping complexes and cinema theatres have left many Bollywood actors with bruises and bitter memories.
One such incident took place when Hrithik Roshan visited the Great India Place in Noida with Mexican actress Barbara Mori to promote their film ‘Kites’. As the venue was a mall, it pulled in surging crowds. But the situation turned ugly when, in a bid to take a closer look at their favourite stars, the fans started pushing and jostling, leaving Barbara with bruised knees and a ripped nail.
It raised questions about why such places are chosen to promote a film knowing that star-struck crowds can go berserk.
‘The producers of the film themselves ask for such places because they feel their film can get maximum publicity,’ a source from a celebrity management firm told IANS.
‘We ensure proper security and send six to seven bouncers with each star. But since ours is a star-struck country, people get excited and try to break the security arrangements and that leads to chaos.’
Actor Salman Khan has been mobbed on several occasions. One such incident took place when he was promoting ‘Veer’ with co-star Zarine Khan at a mall in Hyderabad earlier this year.
Thousands assembled in the mall and the crowd even spilled over on to the road. It was a scary sight and the situation went out of hand when the crowd got impatient and started pushing each other, injuring many. Hyderabad Police had to be called in to control the situation.
Last year also Salman was mobbed by unruly fans and had to be rescued by bodyguards and security agencies when he visited Indore to promote ‘London Dreams’.
Katrina Kaif was in for a shock when she went to Ahmedabad to promote ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’ when as many as 5,000 fans turned up to see her – they were screaming her name, whistling, hooting and pushing around. So far so good. But the actress got a fright when the stage she was sitting on started shaking.
Event organisers do not want to be named, but blame lack of planning for such incidents and say it discourages stars from taking risks.
‘These incidents occur when there is lack of proper planning, safety measures are not taken properly and not much of thinking goes into what can be the consequences if something goes wrong,’ said a public relations executive on condition of anonymity.
‘After such incidents, a celebrity would think twice before attending any event organised by that event management firm again.’
When a crowd of over 300 people tried to get too close for Asin Thottumkal’s comfort at an event in Mumbai last year, Shah Rukh Khan quickly whisked her away.
Celebrity publicist Rajnigandha Shekhawat, who has managed stars like Shahid Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi, says if a star walks out of a promotion tour, it surely impacts the reputation of the PR firm.
‘It’s not often that big stars leave a promotion half way or cancel last minute as they are hard working and committed. But when that does happen, there is the obvious loss to the event management company in terms of reputation,’ said Shekhawat.
‘The producer and the publicist have to bear the brunt of going back on their word to all concerned.’
Instances of crowds going berserk are not restricted to film promotions alone. Stampede-like situations are witnessed during the auditions of reality TV shows.
Delhi auditions of MTV Roadies 6 were cancelled when a group of young men barged into the auditorium and shattered windowpanes, leading to a stampede. About 5,000 people had gathered for the same.
Similarly, a dozen ‘Indian Idol 5’ aspirants were injured when thousands of boys and girls gathered for auditions in Noida, causing a stampede. The incident took place when the candidates, who had been waiting outside, poured into the venue after its gates were opened.
To avoid such incidents, the makers of reality shows have turned more vigilant.
‘With an increase in such incidents, the makers of reality shows are demanding open spaces like stadiums or big grounds, which can accommodate as many as 4,000 people, a place which has a huge boundary wall so that people cannot jump over,’ said R.P. Singh of Sahib Productions.
‘Along with security, there is always a doctor present at the venue in case of emergency,’ said Singh. Sahib Productions has conducted auditions for reality shows like ‘Dare to Date’, ‘Splitsville’ and ‘Exhausted’.
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )