Many from the film fraternity have taken a stand against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s diktat that makers who had cast Pakistani actors in their films have to donate Rs 5 crore to army welfare fund. Ajay Devgn joined the chorus on Tuesday when he said in Delhi that a decision such as this should be taken by filmmakers on their own accord.
Speaking at an event to promote Shivaay, Ajay said, “I think this shouldn’t happen. Everything that you want to do should come from within. Nobody should pressure us or anyone to do something. You can just guide but can’t force. It is just like how we treat our children in today’s life. We do not tell them what to do, we can’t do that. Similarly, this donation of Rs 5 crore for army welfare should be done out of choice but not because of the pressure building up,” Ajay said in a press conference.
Later in an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com, Ajay said he is not against working with Pakistani actors or in the favour of a ban on them. However, at this moment, he feels responsible for standing up for the country. “Industry is not divided into two different parts. Nobody is standing for the ban on Pakistani actors. I said this earlier too, we all want to work together but it is the demand of the present situation. I think like they (Pakistani actors) have stood for their country, we should do too. However, I hope all this comes to an end soon.”
According to reports, MNS, who led protests against the release of the film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, has also asked Bollywood producers ‘to give in writing’ that they would not take actors from Pakistan in their films. In fact, Karan Johar was also asked to display a tribute to Uri martyrs as the first slide of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Similarly, there were reports that even Ajay Devgn will pay tribute to Uri martyrs in Shivaay. Speaking about this, Ajay said, “This wasn’t my statement that I will showcase a slide in the honour of the Uri attack soldiers. It was a decision taken by Indian film association that they want to do this. I had no idea about this but when they asked me about it, I instantly agreed. I am just going by whatever the film association has said. I support them.”
On being asked if the industry should stay away from politics, Ajay said Bollywood has maintained its distance but politics somehow comes in their way. He added, “We put our heart and souls into a film for almost one or two years. We do not want to create controversy. If we had to do it, why will we work for better films? We love when our work is appreciated but when any controversy happens, the attention automatically shifts from the film and it really hurts.”
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Shivaay, Ajay said, is an emotional drama. He explained that the film is called Shivaay because that is his character’s name and has nothing to do with Lord Shiva. The film, which also marks the debut of veteran actor Saira Banu’s grand niece Saiyeshaa Saigal, is to release on October 28.