DUBAI — Asianet Television, organiser of the reality show featuring South Indian megastar Mammootty, has agreed to refund the money to ticketholders who were turned away last Friday from the show venue — Dubai Airport Expo — due to chaos caused by overcrowding fans.
The south Indian channel, which has its Middle East office at Dubai Media City, also apologised for the inconvenience caused to Mammootty’s fans who thronged the venue in “unprecedented” numbers.
“We were not prepared for such an overwhelming response from fans to the final episode of ‘Mammootty The Best Actor Award 2009’ reality show,” said Bindu Menon, Asianet’s Middle East general manager.
Things went out of control when more than 15,000 fans tried to gatecrash into the venue, leaving several people injured in a stampede. “The Dubai Airport Expo, with a capacity for 8,000 people, was far too small to accommodate a crowd of such magnitude,” a disgruntled fan, who could not get into the venue, said.
Asianet, a leading Malayalam channel with worldwide telecast, said it would give refund ticketholders who could prove that they were turned away.
According to an eyewitness, nearly half the crowd turned out without entry tickets, hoping to buy from the venue. “Since tickets were sold out, hundreds of fans tried to gatecrash into the venue, creating a stampede as the 70-member security staff could not control the crowd. Even Mammootty and other artistes were not spared as fans tried to mob their vehicles when they arrived at the venue. Finally, police had to be called in to control the bedlam and the show was on the verge of getting cancelled,” said S. Ramachandran, who was among those who were turned away from the venue.
“Asianet has a track record of organising several mega events in Dubai and elsewhere without any flaw. This is the first time we had to face such an unfortunate situation. We sincerely apologise for the difficulties faced by Mammootty fans,” Menon said.
After more than two hours of chaos and confusion, when the show finally took off, thousands of frustrated fans, including those who bought tickets at prices ranging from Dh50 to Dh1,000, went home without seeing their matinee idol.
The reality show, running for several weeks in Kerala, was based on the rich contribution to Malayalam cinema by Mammootty, a winner of several national accolades including Padmasree and Bharat awards. In each episode, just before the contestants reenacted the roles done by Mammootty, the star himself described and analysed the characterisation of those roles. At the Dubai finale, winners, who were selected by a jury, were promised a chance to act in a movie that will be produced by Mammootty’s production house, Play House.