Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers protested outside Karan Johar’s Andheri office on Tuesday,hitting out at the filmmaker for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in his upcoming film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil .
The protests forced the police to increase security outside Johar’s office. Several workers were rounded up and taken to the police station.
The MNS threatened to stall the release of the movie, in light of the Uri attack in J&K in which 18 soldiers of the Indian Army were killed, and had last week given Pakistani artistes a deadline to leave India.
Johar had spoken against the MNS’ stand in an interview to a TV channel and had said banning Pakistani artistes was not the solution to terrorism. Sources said this sparked Tuesday’s protests. MNS leader Shalini Thackeray, who led the agitation, called Johar’s statement unfortunate. “These Pakistani artistes gain fame and money in India and till date have not spoken against Pakistan for encouraging terrorism. If Johar feels so much, let him migrate to Pakistan and make films there,” Thackeray said.
Senior MNS activists also wrote to Johar’s office, warning him that just as he had the creative liberty to make films with Pakistani artistes, the MNS would ensure it is not screened .
Following the protests, joint commissioner of police, law and order, Deven Bharti, said adequate security has been provided outside Johar’s office. Quickly responding to last week’s threat, Bharti had said, “All foreign nationals in Mumbai on valid documents need not worry. We will provide protection.”
This is not the first time Johar has been targeted by MNS. In 2009, his film Wake Up Sid was disrupted as it used the word Bombay instead of Mumbai.