Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that there have been no obstacles to screening Puneeth Rajkumar-starrer James in theatres. His statement came in response to former CM Siddaramaiah’s allegations that BJP lawmakers and right-wing activists were putting pressure on theatres to stop screening James and play The Kashmir Files instead.
In a series of tweets, Siddaramaiah said that CM should intervene and take strict action against the obstruction to James, whose producers had already made theatre reservations and paid deposits.
“Not only is this disgrace to James, but also an insult to Puneeth Rajkumar. Let Kashmir Files be screened, but it is not right to force a film on people. There was a film about Gandhiji. Recently, there was also a movie called Jai Bhim. Has anyone been forced to watch them?” he wrote.
The former CM also requested the government to exempt James from taxation, as it had done with The Kashmir Files.
Addressing reporters about this, Bommai said, “I have spoken to the Film Chamber in this regard. If there is any trouble with the screening of James, the concerned producers and theatres have the power to sort it out. I have spoken to actor Shiva Rajkumar (Puneeth’s brother), too, and I have requested him to bring it to my notice or to the notice of the Film Chamber if they face any problem.”
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association, KV Chandrasekar said that currently three films – James, The Kashmir Files and RRR – are primarily playing in theatres in Karnataka. “The Kashmir Files is entering its third week and is showing in around 75-100 theatres. James is playing in 270 theatres in its second week, while RRR opened in around 125 theatres on Friday and saw a fantastic first-day reception. So there is no question of the removal of any film.”
He added that even with the release of RRR, a large numbers of audience are still coming in to watch James.
Directed by Chethan Kumar and produced by Kishore Pathikonda, James is Puneeth’s last film. It has been released posthumously after his untimely death. Popularly known as ‘Power Star’ in the Kannada film industry, 46-year-old Puneeth died of cardiac arrest on October 29, 2021.
James also features actors Priya Anand, Sarathkumar and Hareesh Peradi, among several others. The film opened in more than 550 theatres across Karnataka and collected Rs 38 crore at the box office in the first three days.