Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) chairperson Gajendra Chauhan has once again raked up controversy on the issue of Pakistani artistes performing in India. A few days ago, Chauhan had said that Pakistani artistes and commentators should not be given visas as they may be passing on sensitive information about the country and also usurping jobs and taking money away from India. On Wednesday, Chauhan, added fuel to the fire when he said that filmmaker Karan Johar should have replaced Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in his upcoming Diwali release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil if he respects the emotions of the people of India.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has been demanding a ban on Johar’s film, starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Fawad Khan, after the Uri attack. The political party has also threatened to stop the screening of KJo’s film, which opens on October 28.
Chauhan who was in Kolkata on Wednesday said, “The Uri attack happened on September 18 and India replied with the surgical strikes. Karan Johar could have replaced the Pakistani actor in his film and reshot some of the scenes. He still had a month left for the release of the film. We are talking about the emotions of the people of the country here,” said Chauhan.
The actor, who had to face a lot of resistance from students after his appointment as the chairman of FTTI, said that filmmakers and producers wait for months and at times years when their films get stuck at the censor board. Chauhan said that Johar could have waited and shot the sequences with another actor (replacing Fawad Khan) and then released the film. “He is a big director and producer. He could have afforded it too. The director should have condemned the attack and also the Pakistani actor which he hasn’t done it in the video,” said Chauhan, who is best known for playing Yudhishthira in television show, Mahabharat (1988-89).
Chauhan was in Kolkata to announce a bilingual film (Bengali and Hindi, directed by Milan Bhowmik) endorsing inclusion of Bhagavad Gita in the school syllabus. West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has penned the lyrics of one of the songs in the film, which will be sung by minister of state for heavy industries Babul Supriyo.
Bhowmik has earlier directed a bilingual film 1946 Calcutta Killings with Chauhan. The film ran into controversy for the way it portrayed India’s first prime minister. Chauhan plays the role of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in that film. “These hurdles come in life. The case is sub judice and I cannot comment on it. We were supposed to release the film in August but we are still struggling. So, if we can wait for months for our film to release, Karan Johar could have replaced a Pakistani actor and shot the sequences again,” he said.
The FTTI chairman informs that life is back to normal at the film institute. He takes pride in saying that under his guidance, FTTI has introduced new syllabus, come up with new studios and hired new equipments. After he completes shooting for the bilingual film, which also stars Alok Nath, Chauhan will start shooting for a Hindi film, Kisaan Ki Beti, which highlights the problems faced by Indian farmers. Will that film also focus on farmer suicide? “It’s there in the film, but we are also focusing on other areas,” he said.
Johar and Mukesh Bhatt, president, Film & Television Producers Guild of India met home minister Rajnath Singh today to discuss the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Singh has assured the safe release of the film.