‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ to release after producers agree to not cast Pakistani actors

MNS chief Raj Thackeray also demands that producers working with Pakistani actors contribute Rs5 crore to the Army welfare fund

Bollywood director Karan Johar (left) and actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the 18th Mumbai Film Festival in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: PTI
Bollywood director Karan Johar (left) and actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the 18th Mumbai Film Festival in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: Under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers on Saturday announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) withdrew its threat to stall the screening.

Johar, accompanied by Producers’ Guild president Mukesh Bhatt, met Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at his home ‘Varsha’ in Mumbai on Saturday morning where MNS chief Raj Thackeray, whose party has been opposing the release, was also present.

MNS had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Johar has agreed to put a special mention in the beginning of the film paying homage to martyrs, a move to assuage sentiments in the country triggered by the terror attack on an army base in Uri that claimed the lives of 19 security personnel.

Producers Sidharth Roy Kapur, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios were also present in the meeting. Bhatt told reporters that the meeting was “positive and constructive and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will release as per the schedule.”

“We discussed the unfortunate events related to the film’s release. I shared the film industry’s emotions regarding the entire issue. We are Indians first and then comes our business,” he said. Bhatt said they have assured the CM that neither the Producers’ Guild nor any filmmaker will work with any Pakistani artiste or technician in the future. Also, the Guild will call a meeting to pass a resolution on not working with Pakistani artistes. A copy of the same would be sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as the chief minister, he said.

“Karan Johar will display a slate of tribute for Uri martyrs before Ae Dil Hai Mushkil starts playing out in the screens. It is a tribute from us to our soldiers,” Bhatt said.

The makers of the film, slated to release on 28 October, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in lead roles, will also contribute a portion of its revenue to the army welfare fund as demanded by MNS.

Thackeray said MNS laid down three conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with. These include a contribution of Rs5 crore to the Army welfare fund. The Producers’ Guild has agreed to the demand, Bhatt said.

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