Raj Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) today allowed the release of Karan Johar’s forthcoming film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ but said that all producers who employed Pakistani artists must pay Rs 5 crore each into the Indian Army's welfare fund as an ‘atonement’.
"Why should Pakistani actors be given the red carpet welcome when our soldiers are being killed on the borders? Was the Uri attack the first one," an aggressive Thackeray demanded.
He also said that all Pakistani artistes -- actors, singers, among others -- shall be permanently banned from Bollywood.
The decision followed Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' direct intervention in the matter. Fadnavis convened a meeting on Saturday which was attended by Thackeray, Karan Johar and Film and Television Producers Guild of India's President Mukesh Bhatt, among others at his official residence, Varsha, to resolve the imbroglio.
MNS, however, imposed certain conditions to release the film, including the producers making a handsome contribution to the army welfare fund, and slides paying tributes to the brave Indian soldiers before the start of the film in theatres -- to which both Bhatt and Johar readily agreed.
The MNS has been agitating for the past fortnight against the film on grounds that it has Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan, and had vowed not to permit its scheduled release on October 28. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in the lead.
"We have always raised our voice against Pakistani actors, cricketers coming and working here… This is our victory," Thackeray asserted, virtually pulling the rug from under his rival, cousin Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.
Interestingly, even the Shiv Sena has been agitating against Pakistani artistes, writers, and cricketers since several decades and is currently a coalition partner with Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra and in the NDA at the Centre.
Raj Thackeray demanded that each producer employing Pakistani artistes must contribute Rs five crore to the army welfare funds as ‘atonement' (Prayashchit) for their actions.
Asking all producers to ensure they (Pakistani artistes) "don't get entry to Bollywood", Thackeray said the producers must submit a written undertaking to MNS that they would not employ any Pakistani actors, singers, technicians, among others.
"Producers will discuss the ‘atonement' amount to be given with Fadnavis and inform us, but from today (Saturday) no more Pakistani artistes shall be hired. We will not tolerate any excuses on this," Thackeray declared.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Bhatt said the film will release as scheduled and that they have decided not to work with Pakistani artists in the future.
“I assured Fadnavis that Film and Television Producers Guild of India has decided not to work with Pakistani artists in the future. Also Karan Johar has said he will run a slate before the movie starts which honours the martyrs, its a tribute,” Bhatt told reporters.
On October 20, the Film and Television Producers Guild of India member had also met Rajnath Singh, concerning the release of the movie and assured that they will not sign any project with Pakistani artists in future.