Theatres cancel South Indian movie screening amid security concerns - New Canadian Media
Screenshot from the new Malayalam film, Malaikottai Vaailban. Photo: YouTube

Theatres cancel South Indian movie screening amid security concerns

The Malayalam film, Malaikottai Vaaliban, was scheduled to premiere Jan. 24

Theatres across Canada cancelled the evening premiere of the Malayalam film Malaikottai Vaaliban after bullets were fired at a Scarborough, Ont. Cineplex on Jan. 24. 

Toronto Police tweeted about “bullet holes found in the window of a theatre.”

“Police received a call at 11:40 in the Milner/Morningside area about a firearm discharge. Shell casings and bullet holes were discovered. We cannot confirm the timing of the shooting,” stated Shannon Eames, spokeswoman for the Toronto Police Service, in an emailed response.

Cineplex confirmed it was one of the theatres scheduled to show Malaikottai Vaaliban that was hit by gunshots. Cineplex declined to respond to more questions. 

South Indian movie fans arrived at theatres to find the screening had been cancelled. 

Ruban Arjun, a student at a Toronto college, was angry that Cineplex had cancelled the show, which he discovered only after reaching the theatre at Eglinton and Warden.

For the first time in a long while, Arjun thought he wouldn’t have to venture far to indulge in his passion for South Indian cinema. He was looking forward to the local multiplex premiering a Malayalam film that had piqued his interest for some time.

“I understand the shooting incident is scary, but even when the Animal movie got attacked, they did not stop screening it,” he said. “I reached the theatre, saw a couple of people standing sadly, and security informed me that the film was cancelled.”

At this time only two theatres in Canada are showing the movie: TIFF Lightbox in Toronto and in Oakville.

It wasn’t the first time a theatre has been targeted. Canadian theatres showing South Indian language films have been attacked a number of times. 

Arjun’s disappointment is shared by many South Indian movie aficionados in Canada, particularly those in the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver, cities known for their significant South Asian communities. These film enthusiasts have long voiced their frustrations over the lack of quality theatres and it finally seemed they would get to watch the film in a better venue. 

In the days before the premiere of Malaikottai Vaaliban, a controversy erupted over the film’s distribution rights. Biju Thayilchira of 2Kerala Entertainment Network initially declared distribution rights for the movie in Canada; days later, Saleem Padinharkkara of KW Talkies claimed to have exclusive rights. The company has listed over fifty locations nationwide, including many independent theatres and multiplexes, before the Wednesday shooting incident.

Neil Vince, representative of Aashirvad America, the company that has the North American rights to the movie, confirmed that KW Talkies has exclusive rights in Canada but refused to comment further as the shooting incident is being investigated by the RCMP.

KW Talkies’s assertion of exclusive rights prompted 2Kerala Entertainment to serve Cineplex with a legal notice against screening the film. But on Jan. 24, York Cinemas, a Toronto-based theatre company which was supposed to screen the movie with 2Kerala Entertainment, announced on social media that it was canceling “due to content delay and distribution issues.”

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Shilpashree Jagannathan is a journalist from India. She now lives in Toronto and has worked as a business reporter for leading newspapers in India. She has tracked telecom, infrastructure, and real estate news developments and has produced podcast series. She currently focuses on human rights, feminist movements, and other related issues in Canada and India. Her weekends are spent bird watching in one of the Toronto birding hotspots; she loves trails, biking, and a lot of sun.


  1. Outrageous that Canadians should have to deal with this! Leave your cultural violence at home. We don’t need it in this country. We have more than enough crime as it is without theatres getting shot up over some backward tribal crap. What if one of those bullets had hit a Canadian?

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