Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, which is set for a Diwali release in cinema hall, was drawn into a new controversy as a group of nearly 450 cinema owners said it will not screen films with Pakistani actors given “public sentiment” over terror attacks from across the border.
Last month’s terror attack in Kashmir’s Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed, and subsequent surgical strikes by the army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have ratcheted up tension between the neighbours and spurred calls for a wider disengagement from Pakistan – until ties are normal – in a variety of fields including films and sports. The deteriorating relation in between India and Pakistan has claimed one more target, this time Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which may not be screened at theatres during the Diwali weekend as planned.
The association is largely linked to single screen cinemas, not multiplexes, and has members in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Meanwhile, Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay also releases on the same day as ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and is seen as a better bet for Ajay Devgn.
A producers’ body in Mumbai recently banned Pakistanis from working in Indian films. In retaliation, Pakistani theatre owners decided to stop screening Indian films.
Parties like Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have threatened to block Mr Johar’s film if he does not drop Fawad Khan. The film industry has backed Mr Johar. “We are with the government but let the films that are already made release,” said producer Mukesh Bhatt.
The Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) is urging its members to refrain from screening films starring Pakistani actors and has already informed its members in four states — Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.
Pakistani actor Fawad Khan stars in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which also includes actors Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Anushka Sharma among others.