Mammootty fans left distraught by Dubai stampedeBy IANS
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
DUBAI - The stampede at the Dubai venue of the reality show featuring South Indian superstar Mammootty has left his fans distraught, with one of them saying “the mental and physical trauma of the evening was too much”.
Show organiser Asianet said “things were completely out of control” when more than 15,000 fans tried to crowd into a venue meant for half as many to watch the final episode of Mammootty The Best Actor Award 2009, The National reported Monday.
Fans pushed through barriers outside the Dubai Airport Expo and overwhelmed the security staff during the show last Friday.
“I saw a lady falling and people stamping over her. Her family managed to pick her up finally,” E.M. Bashir, 40, a resident of Al Rashidiya, was quoted as saying.
“The mental and physical trauma of the evening was too much. I was hit by a guard and so was my wife. This was too much for us, and we left.”
The show, which was to start at 7.30 p.m., finally began about 9.15 p.m. By that time, many fans who held tickets had left because of the crowd and the confusion.
“People standing there holding their tickets for up to eight hours were just asked to leave,” said Abid Aska, an Indian businessman who said he paid Dh5,000 ($1,400) for five tickets to the event.
“One of the guards was shouting out, saying the programme was cancelled.
“I reached there with my family at 4 p.m. to avoid the rush and we were just sitting in front of the gates until 8.30 p.m. Very few real fans got to see the show.”
The one-hour reality show has aired for the past several months on the Malayalam TV channel Asianet, leading up to the final episode Friday night. The 16 original participants were chosen from a field of more than 1,000 hopeful actors. They were asked to perform characters in roles Mammootty has played and were judged on how well they did.
The organisers apologised to the fans Sunday.
The show’s main attraction, national award winning actor Mammootty, almost left due to the chaos.
Asianet acknowledged that it had been unprepared for the size of the crowd.
“We have successfully done several events before, but this time things were completely out of control,” Bindhu Menon, the company’s Middle East general manager, was quoted as saying.
“Apart from the people who had already purchased tickets, there were thousands of others who were there to get tickets.”
The trouble started when fans swarmed Mammootty’s car as he arrived.
“The stars also had to come through the same entry points. Even Mammootty’s car was stopped and people were all over the car. It had become a major issue,” Menon said.
“Mammootty was even thinking of returning due to all this but he stayed and finally gave a great show.”
Menon went on to say that “the option given to us was to either open the doors to everyone or cancel the show.
“It was practically impossible for us to cancel the show, so we finally opened the gates to everyone.”