The row over Karan Johar’s movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM), which stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, was finally resolved on Saturday with the intervention of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Filmmaker Johar, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray, and president of the Film Producer’s Guild Mukesh Bhatt met with Fadnavis after which Bhatt announced that Johar’s movie will have a tribute message for soldiers killed in militant attacks, and that the guild would no longer work with Pakistanis.
It was also agreed that a share of the movie’s profit would be donated for the welfare of the Indian armed forces personnel.
For more than three weeks the MNS demanded that Fawad Khan be cut out of ADHM, following the attack on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri that killed 19 soldiers. India blamed Pakistan for sheltering the militants who carried out the attack, and even used diplomatic channels to isolate the neighbour country over the issue of terrorism.
The Sena resorted to violent protests against employing Pakistani artistes in Bollywood, also calling on the makers of Shah Rukh Khan’s next movie Raees to replace Mahira Khan, another Pakistani actor.
After the meeting, Bhatt told reporters that the deadlock over ADHM had been resolved, and that it would release as scheduled over the Diwali weekend on October 28.
“Nation and patriotism comes first even for the film fraternity and we respect the Indian soldiers than anything else. We have decided to not engage any Pakistani artist in our films in future. Besides it, we also have decided to contribute a certain amount to the army welfare fund. The fund will be handed over to defence minister Manohar Parrikar irrespective of the film making profit or loss. Karan Johar has also announced to put up a slide honouring and (paying) tribute to the martyrs of Indian armed forces during the screening of the film. The slide will be displayed even before the tribute to Johar’s late father and producer Yash Johar,” Bhatt said.
Thackeray is expected to clarify the MNS’ stand later in the day.
“For me, my country comes first… When I shot Ae Dil Hai Mushkil from September to December last year, the [political] climate was completely different. There were efforts made by our government for peaceful relationships with the neighbouring country… Going forward, I would like to say that of course I wouldn’t engage with talent from the neighbouring country given the circumstance.”
However, the MNS demanded that the director completely cut Khan out of the film, a demand, if accommodated, would have set the movie’s release date back by weeks.
“I assured Mr Fadnavis that the Producer’s Guild will not work with Pakistani artists in the future,” Bhatt said, referring to the Saturday meeting.
On October 20, the guild met Rajnath Singh regarding the release of the movie after which Bhatt said the government assured security to the exhibitor featuring the movie, and try to maintain law and order.
However, MNS kept up the relentless pressure on the film, which also stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in lead roles, and threatened to disrupt its release.