Days before Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil lands in theatres, it has received a body blow. The Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI), after a meeting on October 14, has decided not to screen any film starring Pakistani artistes. This applies to single-screen theatres in four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa.
Addressing the media, COEAI’s president Nitin Datar said that the decision was not taken under any political pressure, but rather, keeping public sentiment in mind. “Today, the meeting of Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India took place and it was decided that keeping in mind the patriotic feelings and the national interest of our country, we request all our members and exhibitors to refrain from screening movies which have involvement of any Pakistani artist, technicians, directors, music directors etc,” Datar said. “We are also in the process of requesting other associations connected with the film industry to support the sentiments in the best interest of our nation.”
He said that while the decision to not screen certain films would cause monetary losses for the theatre owners, there might have been greater damage if their screens were vandalised. “The association is not going to screen any movie and the decision implies from today until things don’t get normal. States included under the association are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa,” Datar added.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil stars Pakistani star Fawad Khan in a pivotal role and will be the first such film to hit the theatres after the escalated tension between the two countries in the aftermath of Uri attack.
Earlier, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had threatened to block the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in Maharashtra. Later, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) announced a ban on Pakistani actors but had requested MNS for a smooth release of films that have already been finished. Other than Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, films which will be hit by this ban include Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees starring Mahira Khan as well as Dear Zindagi which has Ali Zafar.
There was speculation that Karan Johar may replace Fawad in his film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma but a source in Dharma, his production house, confirmed to indianexpress.com on Thursday that the actor would not be dropped. The film has been passed by censor board already. It will release on October 28.