The picturesque locales of Kullu-Manali in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh have long been a favourite shooting spot for many Hindi films. Even Bollywood biggest hit, Aamir Khan's 3 IDIOTS, was extensively shot in and around Manali and the exotic locales of Leh-Ladakh.
In fact just last year we had reported about Manali getting its first theater, Piccadilly. Since Manali is a very popular tourist destination, the cinema hall is doing good business, though due to extreme weather conditions this winter season had been very dull.
However, Shah Rukh Khan's MY NAME IS KHAN seems to have changed all that. People braved the chill and snow and came out in huge numbers to watch the film. When we spoke to the manager of Piccadilly about MNIK's release in Manali he seemed to have been overwhelmed by the bumper response and agreed that he did not expect such a tremendous opening due to the harsh weather conditions which has forced people to stay indoors. The advance booking for the film too had been great and even on Friday, people who could not get the tickets where seeing queuing up to buy tickets for the next shows. In fact the advance booking counter saw a few scuffles amongst enthusiastic cinegoers who were keen on buying the tickets.
The film was released amidst tight security and when we spoke to the 'Manali SHO, Sanjay Sharma, he said, "Manali is a very peaceful town and there was absolutely no disturbance or tension when the film opened on Friday. A lot of tourists come here from all over the world and the Manali police is well equipped to handle any situation."
Certainly Manali, like the rest of the country has given its thumbs up to MNIK and has 'supported the cause of humanity with a vengeance', as Hrithik Roshan tweeted recently!