Actors are always searching for new ways to promote their upcoming movies that would enable them to spread that extra word and earn that extra buck. Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), in an effort to promote his upcoming film Raees, which was initially reported to be based on the life of underworld don Abdul Latif, decided to go on a train ride from Mumbai to Delhi in August Kranti Rajdhani.
This ride helped him connect with people at various railway stations where the train stopped, and these stations saw huge crowds of SRK fans coming on to platforms to catch a glimpse of their superstar. What was presented as a nostalgic decision by someone trying to retrace his roots by travelling back to his hometown (SRK grew up in Delhi) turned out to be a harrowing experience for many.
Situation went out of control at Vadodara and Kota where police had to resort to lathi-charge in order to control the large crowd present at both the stations. Not only it caused inconvenience to commuters, Vadodara railway station witnessed an unfortunate incident where a man died due to heart attack after getting trapped in the mad rush of SRK fans.
Initially being dubbed as a fan himself, details are now emerging that the deceased named Fareed Khan Pathan was a local politician who was there with his family in order to meet a journalist travelling in the same train. The relatives of the deceased too have denied that he was there to see SRK. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has now ordered an inquiry to probe the whole incident.
But this death is not the only controversy related to SRK’s promotional ride. People are now questioning whether Shah Rukh Khan and his team had taken permission from the railways, and whether this permission was granted. The official twitter handle of Rail Ministry tweeted about SRK’s journey, but it was not clear whether the ministry or officials were aware or part of this promotion.
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) January 23, 2017
If the Railways indeed provided permission for the promotion at their already crowded platforms, did they not anticipate the difficulties and chaos it would create? Since this promotional event can be argued to be a commercial endeavour, did the Railways charge fee for offering its premises for promotion? It should be noted that earlier this month, Railways had announced availability of its establishment for non-travel activities like hosting weddings for a fee.
Many people on social media raised such questions. And going a step further, activist Abha Singh wrote to Rail Minister and demanded action against SRK and officials:
My letter to Rly Minister to get FIR done agst SRK& Rly ofcrs under sec 145,175,179 RlyAct&336 IPC for using Rly Platform as promotion venue pic.twitter.com/8yLLFrQPrX
— abha singh (@Abha_ypsingh) January 24, 2017
Ms. Singh claims that the promotion was illegal and SRK’s PR team was responsible for the large crowds at the stations. She also claimed that Shah Rukh Khan violated section 145, 175, 17-9 of the railways acts, which are triggered if someone’s action causes inconvenience to other passengers. She has asked for an FIR to be registered over this. She has further asked for an inquiry against the railway officials who were on board regarding the promotion.
Whatever the outcome of this be, the move surely received a lot of media coverage and if controversy is another mean to promote the movie, that was bonus.