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Rewind mode: When Amitabh Bachchan was banned in Karnataka

A tussle over a Gandhinagar main theatre between Bachchan’s Namak Halal and Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar’s Halu Jenu, turned ugly when the latter was referred to as ‘mini-Hitler’ in a trade magazine

  • OTTplay Team

Last Updated: 11.44 AM, May 28, 2022

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Rewind mode: When Amitabh Bachchan was banned in Karnataka
Haalu Jenu was Dr Rajkumar's first film with Madhavi

Forty years ago, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan had run into trouble in Karnataka, when his film Namak Halal was poised for release. The distributors of his film were eyeing a Gandhinagar main theatre, which was also in contention for Dr Rajkumar’s Halu Jenu. The exhibitor was apparently torn between the two and was skeptical about allowing Dr Rajkumar’s film, as his fans were known to celebrate his movies, by dancing, throwing coins at the screen, performing aarti to him when he appears onscreen and damaging other theatre property in the process.

Dr Rajkumar fan associations eventually struck a deal with the theatre, wherein they promised to place a picture of the matinee idol on the podium and decorate that for fans to do aarti and ensured that no damage would be caused to the hall. Subsequently, the exhibitor decided to allow the screening of Halu Jenu instead of Namak Halal, following which there were disparaging comments about Dr Rajkumar in a trade magazine, including one calling the Kannada actor ‘mini-Hitler’. Although the comments were attributed to an anonymous source, word spread that it was none other than Amitabh himself who said it.

Dr Rajkumar also got wind of it and was apparently offended by the personal attack. At the time, Amitabh was in Karnataka, shooting for his film Coolie, and when the news hit Bengaluru, screenings of his films were stopped. The shoot itself was likely to be disrupted. Amitabh apparently then had a meeting with Dr Rajkumar, during which he not only supposedly apologized to the matinee idol, but also requested him to facilitate the lifting of the ban on his films. After the meeting, the ban was lifted.

The 1982 tragicomedy Halu Jenu was Dr Rajkumar’s first film with Madhavi and was directed by Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao. The film apparently had a 35-week run at the box office, including at the main theatre in Gandhinagar.

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