Mumbai: In a breather for filmmaker Karan Johar, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Saturday allowed the release of his forthcoming film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” — but said all producers who employed Pakistani artists must pay Rs 5 crore each into the Indian Army’s welfare fund as an atonement.
The decision followed Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ direct intervention in the matter — a day after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Mumbai, and two days after he met representatives of Bollywood.
However, MNS President Raj Thackeray said henceforth, all Pakistani artistes — actors, singers, among others — shall be permanently banned from Bollywood.
“Why should Pakistani actors be given the red carpet welcome when our soldiers are being killed on the borders? Was the Uri attack the first one,” an aggressive Thackeray demanded.
Fadnavis convened a meeting on Saturday which was attended by Thackeray, Karan Johar and Film and Television Producers Guild of India’s President Mukesh Bhatt, among others at his official residence, Varsha, to resolve the imbroglio.
MNS, however, imposed certain conditions to release the film, including the producers making a handsome contribution to the army welfare fund, and slides paying tributes to the brave Indian soldiers before the start of the film in theatres — to which both Bhatt and Johar readily agreed.
The MNS has been agitating for the past fortnight against the film on grounds that it has Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan, and had vowed not to permit its scheduled release on October 28.
The film stars Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in the lead.
“We have always raised our voice against Pakistani actors, cricketers coming and working here… This is our victory,” Thackeray asserted, virtually pulling the rug from under his rival, cousin Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.
Interestingly, even the Shiv Sena has been agitating against Pakistani artistes, writers, and cricketers since several decades and is currently a coalition partner with Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra and in the NDA at the Centre.
Raj Thackeray demanded that each producer employing Pakistani artistes must contribute Rs five crore to the army welfare funds as ‘atonement’ (Prayashchit) for their actions.
Asking all producers to ensure they (Pakistani artistes) “don’t get entry to Bollywood”, Thackeray said the producers must submit a written undertaking to MNS that they would not employ any Pakistani actors, singers, technicians, among others.
“Producers will discuss the ‘atonement’ amount to be given with Fadnavis and inform us, but from today (Saturday) no more Pakistani artistes shall be hired. We will not tolerate any excuses on this,” Thackeray declared.