Police called in over long queue for movie tickets
Hundreds of foreign workers queued at Rex Cinemas on Mackenzie Road from 6am to catch Kaththi, a Tamil blockbuster that started screening here yesterday.
The large crowds caused some concerned members of the public to call the police. Even the Special Operations Command (SOC) was called in.
Among those in the queue was Mr Mukesh Dorai, 35, and five of his friends. The engineer from Chennai said he arrived just before 7am yesterday.
Ticketing counters opened only at 8am, and there were several screenings of the film: at 9am, noon, 3.30pm, 6.45pm, 10pm and 1am.
Mr Mukesh, tasked to buy tickets for the group, said his heart sank when he got to the cinema.
"There were more than 100 people in front of me, so I thought I wouldn't be able to get the tickets," he told The New Paper outside the cinema.
"But while queueing, I used my mobile phone to book online. We're going to watch the noon show."
Each movie ticket costs $17.
When asked if he was going out to celebrate Deepavali with his friends after the movie, Mr Mukesh shook his head. Pointing to the Kaththi poster, he said: "This is our Deepavali party."
Not as lucky was a 36-year-old site supervisor who wanted to be known as Ravi. He, too, was in line at about 7am but didn't get any tickets.
He said that by about 7.30am, a large crowd had gathered and the queue snaked around the cinema building, spilling onto Mackenzie Road.
Some in the queue were getting impatient, he said, and the crowd got slightly rowdy.
Several people told The New Paper that dozens of police and SOC officers arrived at about 8am.
A police spokesman said they received a call at 7.40am from Rex Cinemas requesting for assistance. When they arrived, a large crowd waiting to buy tickets for the 9am film had formed on Mackenzie Road. Some were impatient from the wait so police officers were deployed to keep order.
At about 9.55am, cinema staff announced that all tickets for the day's screenings of Kaththi had been sold out, and the crowd dispersed.
When TNP visited Golden Cinema at Golden Mile Tower, there were nearly 100 people in line at the ticket office outside the building.
Cinema staff were seen ushering ticket buyers, trying to get them to stay in line.
Mr Ravi, who was there with two friends, said he took a taxi there to queue for tickets. "We're going to watch the 5.30pm show," he added with a smile.
Starring popular Indian actor Vijay, Kaththi (Knife) has been mired in controversy due to its producer's alleged links to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, reported The Hindu.
India's Tamil Nadu state's testy relationship with the country dates back to Sri Lanka's civil war against the island's Tamil Tiger separatists.
Several cinemas in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, were attacked on Tuesday, when several men broke glass panels and threw homemade kerosene bombs into the multiplexes.