Amid the rising noise over Bollywood’s keenly awaited film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, director-producer Karan Johar has finally come out with a statement where he has stated that for him his country comes first and that he will not cast any Pakistani artistes in his films in the future.
Johar’s statement is laced with words advocating his patriotism for the country but they also indicate that he might be bending under pressure of the MNS who had threatened to disrupt the film’s screening.
The statement comes after a section of filmmakers went to meet the Mumbai Commissioner earlier on Tuesday seeking security for the screening venues when the film is released. The controversy arose due to Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s role in the film.
Tension between India and Pakistan are at a high. After Pakistani terrorists attacked Indian Army encampments in Kashmir last month, the country erupted in anger against Pakistan and several unions in the film fraternity boycotted Pakistani artistes from working in the industry.
Johar insists that he is not anti-national. The film was shot in the end of 2015 when relations between the two countries were amicable. He stated: “When I shot my film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in September to December last year the climate was completely different. The circumstances were completely different. There were efforts made by our government for peaceful relationship with our neighbouring country.”
MNS has kept on its offensive. Raj Thackeray spoke after the attacks that they are not against Pakistani artistes but there is no need to cast them in our films as there is “no shortage of talent in India”. However, the current stance of the MNS has put the Johar on the backfoot.
Speaking on the film’s imminent release in theaters, MNS had warned the makers that multiplexes are built of glass. The latent warning seems to intimidate the filmmakers, quite successfully so. The MNS had called for a complete ban of the film. MNS’ further action is subject to speculation. However, it seems Johar intends to put this controversy behind by solving this issue, possibly under pressure, choosing a non-confrontationalist stance.