Bollywood world premiere in Abu Dhabi marred by scrum
ABU DHABI // It was supposed to herald Abu Dhabi's arrival as a new centre of Bollywood cinema.
Film-makers chose the UAE capital to hold the star-studded world premiere of Katrina Kaif's latest release, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.
But a red carpet event for last night's launch at Marina Mall turned into an ugly scrum when some of the more than 1,000 fans who turned up to see their screen idols were pushed and shoved by bouncers.
Among those gathered were children and babies, whose terrified parents were forced to shield them from the scramble.
Jaspreet Suri, 36, whisked her daughter Tamanna, 6, out of the path of danger as bodyguards for Kaif and her co-stars Ali Zafar and Imran Khan, and the director Ali Abbas Zafar, formed a human chain and pushed anyone on the fringes of the red carpet out of the way.
The crowd was up to four deep in some places with barriers and shops behind them, making people stumble on to one another, although no one was injured.
"It was horribly managed and badly organised," said Mrs Suri. "I had to save my baby and pick her up before anything happened. She would have been crushed.
"I am not interested in seeing any stars like this. There is no fun in this. My daughter was very upset and I was worried for our safety."
Samer Abdullah, 25, who was in the gathering with a group of friends, said: "We got pushed. We did not expect anything like this to happen."
The crowd began to grow at 6pm. By the time the stars arrived at 8.30pm - 90 minutes after they were supposed to appear - it had filled two floors of the shopping centre and the stairs leading up to the cinema.
Even Kaif, in a white, bejewelled dress, looked concerned and did not stop to sign autographs or talk to fans who had waited patiently for hours at the event, which was dubbed Hurricane Katrina by some in the gathering.
Instead, she put a hand on the shoulder of the director so he could lead the way.
It was not clear last night who was responsible for security at the premiere of the latest production from Yash Raj Films.
Earlier in the day, the stars and producers talked about the romantic comedy set in London and northern India, where Khan's character Kush searches for the ideal bride for his brother Luv.
The director said he decided to stage the premiere in the Abu Dhabi ahead of its Indian release because of the growing appetite for Indian cinema in the Middle East.
"Yash Raj Films is opening up to new markets and we want to start something new here," he said.
Kaif added: "I shot a lot of my earlier films between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and have always thought it is such an amazing, beautiful place.
"I have seen so much change and improvement. For me that is really exciting every time I get an opportunity to come here."
The actress, one of the biggest-banking female stars in the Indian film industry, said she had little in common with her erratic, impractical character Dimple Dixit.
"I would not say her behaviour is like mine," she said.
The film is expected to be a huge hit for her and her co-stars Khan, who enjoyed success with I Hate Luv Storys, and the singer-turned-actor Zafar, who played the lead in the political satire Tere Bin Laden.
"My criteria for choosing a script comes down to whether I would watch this film," Khan said. "Ali [Abbas Zafar] took a premise that could have been very dated and made it fresh and funny."
Tamer Al Sherbini, of the local Bollywood TV station Zee Aflam, said having the premiere in the UAE heralded the start of a commitment to bring "the latest blockbuster Hindi film experiences to the local Arabic audience, our primary viewers".
Published: September 8, 2011 04:00 AM