Actors Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt faced protests at a temple on their visit to Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain to promote their mega film "Brahmastra Part-1: Shiva" on Tuesday. The couple, who are expecting a baby, turned back without visiting the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple over security worries amid protests over an 11-year-old comment by Ranbir Kapoor. The film's director, Ayan Mukherji, later visited the temple with the Brahmastra crew to "take the blessings of Lord Shiva".
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra today denied that the star couple had been stopped from visiting the temple and claimed that officials had instead requested them to go ahead. "No one stopped them from offering prayers, they decided on their own not to go there. The Ujjain administration has briefed me about entire episode. The couple was requested by the administration to go ahead to offer prayers. There was adequate security, but they decided to not go there. No one stopped them," he said.
The protests involve Ranbir Kapoor saying in 2011 that he likes beef. "I am a mutton, paya, beef...red meat guy. I'm a big beef guy," he had said during an interview.
Members of the Bajrang Dal, which is linked to the state's ruling BJP as part of the Sangh Parivar, gathered at the temple protested against the comment, which has been circulating on social media. They held black flags and placards and shouted slogans against the film star.
The police came in to disperse the protesters and some were even beaten up.
"Due to VIP movement at the temple, we were taking security calls and the protesters were asked to stay behind the barricading, a member from Bajrang Dal came and started breaching the security due to which we had to take the following security calls," said OP Mishra, a police officer.
Some social media users have been digging out Ranbir Kapoor's old interviews and this comment has sparked a huge backlash. Posts have emerged with the hashtag #BoycottBrahmastra on Twitter.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi condemned the protests and targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in her post.
Sharing a viral photo of Bollywood actors with PM Modi, Ms Chaturvedi wrote, "None of this photo op will help if you'll continue to be mute spectators to hate and believe it's not your business to talk politics. They will come after you anyway. Mahakaleshwar temple protests in Ujjain is a case in point. Shame that political prejudice is leading to such ugliness."
The hugely-anticipated Brahmastra trilogy will debut in the cinemas on Friday.