June 16, 2007 / 6:12 AM / 11 years ago

Malaysian fans enraged by Indian film delay -paper

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 (Reuters) - Angry Malaysian film fans went on the rampage at more than 10 cinemas this week, smashing displays, setting posters ablaze and beating up one manager in protests against glitches that marred an Indian movie premiere.

The film, "Sivaji — the Boss", starring Tamil movie idol Rajnikanth, was released simultaneously in India and Malaysia on Thursday, but was delayed by six hours at some local theatres, and called off in others, the Star newspaper said on Saturday.

Tamil speakers make up the majority of Malaysia’s ethnic Indians, who form about 8 percent of a population of 26 million.

At a theatre on the northern island of Penang, police had to be called in to control unruly fans who banged on ticket counters demanding refunds, though the film was eventually screened three hours late, the paper said.

In Klang, near the Malaysian capital, fans who were kept waiting for more than five hours wrecked a cinema lobbby, ripping up ticket counters and setting fire to part of the theatre, but the flames were quickly doused by theatre employees.

Elsewhere, fist fights broke out, people threw glass bottles, and one cinema manager beaten up by fans had to have stitches for his head injuries, the paper said, adding that police arrested several people but released them later.

"I don’t understand why they advertised opening times for the movie if they cannot start on time," D. Karthik, a man who waited five hours to see the film, was quoted as saying.

Tickets to all 800 seats in Kuala Lumpur’s landmark Coliseum cinema sold out within an hour, enraging people who had queued for up to four hours.

The film’s distributors said heavy rains disrupted delivery of some prints to theatres while others were held up by delays in receiving passwords for Internet downloads — a strategy meant to frustrate Malaysia’s notorious movie pirates, the Star said.

The movie was made for more than $15 million, a huge budget by Indian standards, and is that country’s most expensive film.

Rajnikanth, 57, a flamboyant regional star who is the film’s hero, has almost a cult following in India’s southern states, where tickets have been sold out for weeks.

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