After days of uncertainty over the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the Bollywood fraternity has been promised a “great Diwali” by Union home minister Rajnath Singh with a safe and secure release of the film. Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, on Thursday met Singh who assured a safe release of the film on October 28 — two days before the festival of lights. Johar skipped the meeting as he is busy with the post-production of the film in Mumbai, sources added.
Bhatt, along with singer-politician Babul Supriyo, met Singh to appeal for security amid vandalism threats from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which is against the movie’s release as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. “We are entertainers. We are interested in working with artistes, and not whether they belong to Pakistan, China or Africa,” Bhatt told the media after meeting Singh. MNS had refused to change its stance despite Johar saying in a video message that he will not work with talent from Pakistan in the future.
As the head honcho of the producers’ guild, Bhatt had earlier met a Mumbai police representative to appeal for police protection to ensure that the city’s theatres which will screen Ae Dil Hai Mushkil remain safe. Asked if they didn’t have full faith in the Mumbai Police, he said: “I will give them 200 per cent marks to Mumbai police. But the film isn’t releasing just in Mumbai. We want to safeguard ourselves, so who better than the home minister? It is his domain.”
Before his meeting with Singh, Bhatt said that it is, as a citizen, that he feels it’s his “right to feel safe”. “We want to celebrate Diwali. We want to get entertained with a good family entertainer film. I feel that the state is definitely going to give me support and protection against people who want to create violence for no reason,” he said.
Bhatt also said people are free to see the movie. “India is a free country, but at least you should not stop people and then stop people violently. That is something I feel that the government of today should have zero tolerance towards, violence.”
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has become the first target of those who are against inclusion of Pakistani artistes in Indian films after the September 18 Uri attack which killed 19 Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. The attack was followed by surgical attacks that India conducted across LoC.
The subsequent bilateral unrest between India and Pakistan had a spill over in film industries on both sides of the border. While the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) issued an ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to quit India, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association passed a resolution asking producers to avoid working with talent from Pakistan.
Then, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India announced single screen theatres in Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat won’t screen Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. MNS has been open about condemning the idea of releasing of the movie.