At a press conference in Mumbai, Amey Khopkar, President of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s film wing, said: “The day Pakistan will stop attacking our country, we will extend the hand of friendship. We do not have anything against art but the artistes who are employed in India remained mum on the terror attack in Uri. We gave them an ultimatum of 48 hours to leave India. You can rest assured that they have left, but if we find any Pakistani artiste, we won’t spare (them).”
On Tuesday, MNS workers protested outside filmmaker Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions office for casting Fawad in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.Talking about Karan, Khopkar said: “Karan Johar isn’t bigger than the government. If Karan Johar and Raees makers don’t replace the actors, we will not allow Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Raees to release.” Raees marks Mahira’s entry into Bollywood and features superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the lead, while “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” stars Fawad with Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma.
The party’s General Secretary Shalini Thackeray said: “Fawad Khan is not the only target. We are against every Pakistani actor. We will not allow any Pakistani actor to work in Mumbai.” The MNS directive came following the September attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 18 soldiers. The ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to leave India left Bollywood split, with some celebrities speaking in favour of it and some wondering how it would help in solving the issue of terrorism. Even Indian channel Zindagi has announced plans to stop beaming syndicated Pakistani shows — which has been its USP since its launch in 2014. Essel Group’s chairman Subhash Chandra said they made the move as “love can’t be one-sided”.
For now, Fawad is in Pakistan and may in all probability remain there for a good long period. Though the actor was supposed to fly back to promote ADHM, given the troubled political atmosphere prevailing in India, it is unlikely that the actor will return anytime soon.