Ticket tout fears over Bollywood star

FESTIVAL chiefs have moved to restrict the sale of tickets for an appearance by a major Indian film star amid fears they were being targeted by touts.

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) are limiting sales of tickets for the first time after someone tried to buy all 200 remaining spaces for a talk by award-winning actor Shah Rukh Khan - the man dubbed "the Indian Tom Cruise".

The incident has also led to organisers issuing a warning to fans to be sure they only buy tickets from legitimate outlets.

The EIFF has been inundated with inquires since it was announced that the Indian actor would make an appearance in the Capital at the festival’s Reel Life programme.

At just 36, the actor is one of the best-known faces in "Bollywood" - Bombay’s answer to Hollywood - and has already appeared in 47 movies.

One of his biggest hit movies, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, was shot in Scotland in 1999 in locations including Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and Tantallon Castle.

When the film was released it was the highest grossing Bollywood Film ever and the first Bollywood movie to get into the UK Screen International top ten.

Mr Khan is to give a talk about his film career for more than 500 people at the UGC Cinema in Fountain Park later this month.

Three of the star’s biggest films will also be screened at the cinema during August.

Tickets for the event went on sale last month and on Monday staff at the Film Festival box office became suspicious when an unknown person phoned in trying to purchase all of the remaining tickets .

The move led the EIFF to restrict the number of tickets, which are now almost sold out, to four per person.

A spokeswoman from the EIFF said: "Aside from showing the popularity of the event and the need to book tickets soon, we also want to make sure that people only buy tickets from legitimate Film Festival outlets and that fans are not exploited.

"This action could have stopped a lot of other people from buying tickets. We knew that interest would be large for this event."

Edinburgh’s festivals tsar Steve Cardownie said the UCG had done the right thing. "The last thing we want is the tickets being touted because we want as many people to enjoy the show as possible who are paying face value for the ticket. I think the Edinburgh International Film Festival should be commended for their action."

The UGC Cinema is also expecting a busy show. A spokeswoman said: "We have never had anything like this before and we are expecting big crowds and hysteria on the day.

"We are asking people who will be picking up tickets from the cinema on the day to get there early because there will be long queues."

Edinburgh Mela board of directors member Prabjote Singh said she was sure the Edinburgh audience will love the film star.

"He is recognised by the Scottish audience as well as in India, so I think there will be a big response. It will be very good for Edinburgh to have a major Bollywood star coming over here."

Another of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Sukhwinder Singh, will also be in the Capital for the Edinburgh Mela. Mr Singh, one of the stars of Monsoon Wedding, will sing at a Bollywood concert at the Usher Hall on Sunday September 1.

Mr Khan’s talk is to be held at the UGC Cinema at Fountain Park at 3pm on Saturday, August 24.

Tickets can be purchased from the UGC Cinema, the film festival box office in Lothian Road or on 0131-623 8030.