Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will finally release on schedule after MNS chief Raj Thackeray rolled back his threat of blocking the film following a promise by producers not to engage Pakistani actors in the future and pay Rs 5 crore as ‘penance’ to the army welfare fund.
The compromise was hammered out Saturday morning at a meeting involving Thackeray, Johar and producers’ guild president Mukesh Bhatt at Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence.
The meeting was convened by Fadnavis a day after he met union home minister Rajnath Singh. The film producers had met Singh in New Delhi on Thursday seeking his intervention for release of the film Mumbai.
The MNS is among outfits that had threatened to vandalise cinemas and block the film as it stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
The deadlock has been resolved only after the producers accepted Thackeray three major demands.
“Every producer who has cast a Pakistani actor must contribute Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund,” Thackeray said after the meeting.
That sum is a ‘penance’ for producers for engaging Pakistani actors. Producers will also show a slide as a tribute to Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation before the film begins.
Thackeray also extracted another major demand – that of a ban on Pakistani artistes.
“The Film Producers Guild of India has agreed to give us in writing that no Pakistani artists including actors, singers, technicians will be employed in India films,” the MNS chief said.
“While Pakistan has banned Indian content, why do we give them a red carpet here?” Thackeray asked.
He claimed the development as victory of his party’s agitation against Pakistani artistes. He said that the ban on the artistes will come into force with immediate effect and the producers with the under production films will have to pay the donation as ‘penance’ for engaging the Pakistani artistes.
Claiming victory for the MNS agitation, Thackeray said: “We have always protested against Pakistani artistes but Bollywood never understood earlier. Now they have realised.”
Film producers’ guild of India’s president Mukesh Bhatt told reporters after the meeting that the deadlock over the film has been resolved and the film will be released as scheduled 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 artiste in our films in future. Besides, we 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.
While Fadnavis has managed to broker peace, the opposition has slammed the BJP-led government’s approach to resolve the issue. Congress MLA Nitesh Rane criticised the government for having succumbed to the MNS’ diktat.
The MNS had flagged the film after the terror attack on the Uri army camp last month killed 19 soldiers. It also said it would oppose Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees which features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan and is scheduled for a January release.
Following the Uri attack, the MNS had issued a 48-hour notice on September 25 to Pakistani actors to leave the country.