Film starring Pakistani actor gets go ahead

The impasse over the release of a film by top Bollywood director Karan Johar, featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, ended on Saturday  as the former gave in to the conditions put forward by an Indian right-wing party.

President of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a regional party in Mumbai, Raj Thackeray; Johar and President of the Film and Television Producer’s Guild of India, Mukesh Bhatt, met at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ residence to end the logjam over the upcoming drama flick ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.

Bhatt termed the meeting constructive.

“I was very happy that everyone has come on the same page,” said Bhatt after the meeting.

He added the guild would soon pass a resolution on not working with Pakistani artists in future. A copy of this resolution will be submitted to Fadnavis and Information and Broadcasting ministry.

‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ has been in the eye of a storm for featuring Khan at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan are running high.

MNS had urged a boycott of Johar’s which opens in Indian cinemas on October 28, two days before Diwali – the country’s festival of lights.

It had also threatened to vandalise theaters screening the film.

“They have to put a disclaimer in the starting which says that they are paying a tribute to all the soldiers who have lost their lives in all these terrorist attacks. Secondly, every producer of this film, individually has to pay five crores (USD 747,222) to the army fund, (for) which the cheque they have to go and give it to the defence minister. And third, the most important issue for which this whole campaign was raised, was that Pakistani artists or anybody from Pakistan, henceforth, will never work in this industry whether it is television or film,” said a leader of MNS, Shalini Thackeray.

She added the condition of not working with Pakistani artists or technicians will continue even if the relations between the two nations normalise in future.

These conditions will also be applicable to another two upcoming Bollywood films ‘Dear Zindagi’ and ‘Raees’, starring Pakistani actors Ali Zafar and Mahira Khan respectively.

However, Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, which decided not to screen films featuring Pakistani crew because of “public sentiment” last week, said its stance remained unchanged.

Tensions have escalated sharply since India announced on September 29 its special forces had carried out a surgical strike against militants camping in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and inflicted significant casualties.

Pakistan denied such a strike had taken place but vowed to retaliate against any Indian aggression.

The raid by Indian military was a direct response to a militant attack on an army camp in Uri that killed 19 soldiers, the deadliest toll in nearly two decades.

India said the attackers had come from Pakistan but Islamabad denied the allegations and demanded credible proof.

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