Film and Television Guild of India chief Mukesh Bhatt, who has been backing Karan Johar in his fight to have his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil released, may be upset that Indian artistes are being placed in the dock to prove their patriotism but he believes the boycott of Pakistani actors is fair.
“They (Pakistani artistes) need to put pressure on their government to stop harbouring terrorists,” he said on Saturday after the logjam over the MNS threat was resolved. Stating that the ban on Pakistani artistes is indefinite as of now, he said, “We will not relent until Pakistan takes some concrete measures to battle terrorism.” Asked about the “deal” with the MNS, Bhatt said, “Let’s just say I am happy that the film is releasing. It’s a Diwali for everyone involved.”
The move to have all producers who have worked with Pakistani artistes to pay Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund, however, has not gone down well with the other prominent producers’ body — the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association. Ashoke Pandit, a member of the association’s board, said CM Devendra Fadnavis has set a bad example. “Today Raj Thackeray put forth these conditions; tomorrow he may notch up his demands on another issue.”
Fadnavis, he said, should have “invited the exhibitors and producers, and reassured them that they should not fear anyone and release the film”.
Pandit also said that Bhatt does not represent the entire industry, or all producers in Bollywood. “He only represents the Guild. How can he go and give in to MNS’s demands on everyone’s behalf,” he asked. “IMPPA has members who cannot even afford a budget of Rs 5 crore for their films. How will they donate that amount if they have already worked with some Pakistani artiste?”
Reiterating the absence of a common voice, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) did not retract its decision to boycott Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. COEAI president Nitin Datar said they have not been involved in any talks, and their decision stands. “Our members will not release the film in our territory,” he asserted.
Reacting to Datar’s statement, Bhatt said the COEAI will eventually have to fall in line. “If they don’t, we will deal with them later. We will consider not partnering with them for future projects,” he said.