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QUESTIONING MAHARASHTRA Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s role in mediating talks between Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray and film producer Karan Johar — during which the latter gave in to the MNS demand not to cast Pakistani artistes in future and to pay Rs 5 crore as ‘prayashchit’ (penance) to the Army welfare fund — actor-director Farhan Akhtar said on Wednesday that it has set a “terrible precedent”. “The only word, I think, that comes to mind is unfortunate, because it has set a terrible precedent,” he said.
Referring to the threats issued by the MNS over Johar’s decision to cast Pakistan actor Fawad Khan in his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Akhtar said, “It’s not even the government telling you what you should be doing and not doing. So who are you listening to? You are listening to the people who are threatening you with violence. Now, when you have the threat of violence, it’s not only about you. You have kids at home, you have a family.
Farhan Akhtar speaks out against Johar-Thackeray deal
Why do you want to subject them to that? At the end of the day, it’s really unfortunate that this is the state of affairs.”
Speaking to The Indian Express during the promotion of his next film, Akhtar questioned the selective targeting of the film industry. “By all means pass a law. If you pass a law, you are representing the voice of the people. We’ve elected you to do it, so by all means pass a law. But don’t hold that standard only for the film industry. Why only the film industry? Because we are easy targets. Why don’t you stop business between India and Pakistan, this two billion dollars of business that happens every single year. Stop it, go the whole hog. This is like window dressing,” he said.
Akhtar said Johar had signed on Khan at a time when India-Pakistan relations were better. “People were encouraging exchange, our Prime Minister travelled there. It was an air, an environment of optimism, an environment of wanting bridges to be made. That’s the environment you started functioning in. Now, if that’s changed, you cannot hold this person by his throat and say that what you have done is wrong, and force you to say things and force you to pay money.”
While his government is facing criticism for giving in to the demands of the MNS, Fadnavis has defended his decision, claiming that he did not broker a deal but only held talks in order to find a solution. “If talks can be held with Hurriyat and Naxals, what is wrong in talking with the MNS,” Fadnavis told The Indian Express on Monday.