Rajini, Ajith fans welcome ‘Petta’, ‘Viswasam’ with celebrations and violence

Chennai: World is a stage, they say generally. But, for those in Tamilnadu, stage (read screen) is their world. Today, the craze has reached its peak thanks to two films that hit the screens- Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajithkumar’s Viswasam.

With the first shows starting early in the morning, a festival like atmosphere prevailed in front of theatres. The films opened to packed houses as early as 1 am. Crackers were burst, fans indulged in singing and dancing in front of cinema halls throwing traffic out of gear and performed milk abhishekams to the cutouts of the matinee idols. A quiet serene morning turned a noisy one everywhere.

Break the rules
Though a recent Government Order permitted only five shows, several theatres across the State came up with early morning screenings – as many as seven shows in a day. Gates opened for movies at 1 am. And fans lapped up tickets paying more that what the government prescribed as theatre fare.

The irony is- there were no complaints from them. With equal number of screens for both Petta and Viswasam, there were lots of cheer and lot to fight among fans.

Topping the celebrations for Rajinikanth’s Petta was the marriage of a die-hard fan that took place at a theatre in Chennai. It was a traditional wedding with a priest chanting mantras and senior members of Rajini Makkal Mandram handing out the thali. The same happened in a theatre in Thanjavur too.

At Sumathi theatre in Sholingur (Vellore district) where Petta was screened, fans celebrated by cooking sweet pongal at 5.30 am. Many women also participated in the festivities. A number of pumpkins, coconuts and lemons were crushed to ward off the evil eye, said a member of Rajini Makkal Mandram.

Ajithkumar, son of Pandiyan from Katpadi in Vellore district, was a die-hard fan of actor Ajithr. He insisted his father to give him money to watch the first day fist show of Viswasam. When he refused, Ajithkumar poured petrol on Pandiyan while he was asleep and set him on fire. Hearing the screams of Pandiyan, his neighbours rescued him and admitted him to a hospital.

Five fans were injured when a cutout of actor Ajith fell at a theatre in Thirukovilur, Villupuram district. All five of them have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries. The cutout fell when fans climbed on to it to do milk abhishekam.

In an another incident in Vellore, Ajith fans had a fight over occupying a seat in a theatre in the locality. Prashanth and his uncle Ramesh were stabbed during the quarrel and the injured have been hospitalised. Meanwhile, Ajith fans who indulged in a protest outside a theatre in Medavakkam against the high ticket price were lathicharged by the police. They dispersed only after that.

Early in the morning, there was a clash between Rajini fans and Ajith fans in a theatre at Koyambedu in Chennai. It is said that Ajith fans were angry that Viswasam did not get a special morning show, following which they tried to tear up Petta banners. This reportedly led to a quarrel between the two groups. It took police intervention to prevent it from escalating into a fight.

Saravanan, a member of Gudiyatham Rajini Makkal Mandram who went to see Petta first show at a theatre in the locality suffered burn injuries due to crackers being burst by fans during the celebrations. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital.

At a multiplex in Koyambedu where Rajinikanth’s Petta was screened at 5 am, Latha Rajinikanth, Dhanush and Aishwarya R Dhanush among others caught all action. They were given special seats and fans mobbed them as they entered the cinema hall. Meanwhile, the cast and crew of Petta including director Karthik Subbaraj were spotted watching Petta at 4 am at a theatre at Ekkatuthangal.

Actor Rajinikanth, who went on a vacation to USA, was back this morning to Chennai. He along with his family members chose to spend New Year abroad. As his Petta hit the screens today to housefull shows, Rajinikanth was back in the city. Fans gathered in large numbers at the airport to catch a glimpse of him.