Within days of issuing an ‘ultimatum’ to Pakistani film artists to leave the country, members of the Raj Thackeray-led MNS on Tuesday staged a protest outside the production house of director-producer Karan Johar in Mumbai, leading to the arrest of around 15 of them by police. The demonstration was held in front of Johar’s Dharma Production office, whose ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ has a special appearance by Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan.
The MNS has been venting its ire on Pakistani actors and artists in India and also the producers casting them in their projects, following the Uri terror attack, which left 18 soldiers dead. It has also raised a flag against Shah Rukh Khan starrer “Raees” in which Pakistani actress Mahira Khan is playing the female lead. According to Amboli police, around 15 MNS workers were arrested after they began protesting and raising slogans against Pakistani artists in the office premises of Johar at Veera Desai Road in suburban Andheri.
They were arrested under Section 68 of Mumbai Police Act. These were preventive arrests and they were liable to be granted bail after warning, said Senior Police Inspector Bharat Gaikwad. Notably, police had served notice to MNS’ Chitrapat Kamgar Sena (Films wing) president Amey Khopkar under section 149 on Sunday after he and party general secretary Shalini Thackeray gave an ultimatum to Pakistani actors and artists to leave the country within 48 hours.
Defending the protest, Shalini said her party will not allow the release of Johar’s film. “Karan Johar, who has made the film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, had recently said that Pakistani actors should not be prohibited from working in India. We wish to remind him that Indians see his movies that result in him earning crores of rupees. If he survives on Indians’ money, how can he not respect the feelings of his fellow Indians?,” she said in a statement.
“We strongly condemn Karan Johar’s point of view that banning Pakistani actors and artistes would not solve the problem of terrorism. How can he give such an immature and a shallow statement? Our party workers will not allow the release of his film come what may,” Thackeray claimed. The MNS also submitted a letter to Johar’s office, in which it said Bollywood has not taken the issue of terror attacks seriously while allowing Pakistani actors to earn money in the film industry in the name of exchange of culture and art.
“You are a well known filmmaker who has crores of fans in the nation. But, you have disrespected the feelings of Indians in the wake of heightened tension between the two nations by openly supporting Pakistani artists. You should not have cast Fawad Khan in your film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’,” the letter stated. “Is there a dearth of talent in our country? If you have true respect for the sacrifice of our soldiers on the border, you would not have supported Pakistani artists,” it said.
The letter further warned him and other filmmakers of “dire consequences in MNS style”, if they did not come out and make an open statement of not casting Pakistani artistes in future. MNS had claimed last week that Pakistani actors were hijacking the opportunities of artistes in India. They also said they had dashed off letters to Pakistani actors, whose country is allegedly sponsoring terrorism, to stop their acting business here and quit the country.
Mumbai police had, however, given an assurance to the actors. This is not the first time that Pakistani artistes have been threatened in Mumbai. Last year, noted Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali had to cancel his performance in Mumbai after Shiv Sena threatened him.