MUMBAI — The release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” will go ahead this week (Oct. 28,) during the Diwali holiday, following a high-level political compromise. The film is co-produced by Johar’s Dharma Productions with Fox Star Studios India.
Starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor, the film’s release was opposed by political party the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) because of the presence of Pakistani star Fawad Khan in the cast. Tensions between India and Pakistan and India have been high in recent weeks after a terrorist attack in Kashmir left several Indian soldiers dead. India retaliated with military strikes.
The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association last month called on its members to stop working with Pakistani talent and technicians. In retaliation, Pakistani cinema chains stopped screening Indian content, followed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority imposing a blanket ban on Indian film, TV and music.
Johar issued an apology via social media and promised not to use any Pakistani talent in future. On Saturday, prominent producers including Fox’s Vijay Singh, Disney’s Siddharth Roy Kapur and Vishesh Films’ Mukesh Bhatt met MNS chief Raj Thackeray along with Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital.
Thackeray agreed to let the release go ahead with three conditions – that a slate paying tribute to the slain Indian soldiers be inserted before the film plays in cinemas; a guarantee in writing from the Indian producers’ guild that Pakistani talent will not be engaged in future; and a contribution of Rupees 50 million ($750,000) to the Indian Army Welfare Fund by any Indian production that has Pakistani talent in it.
However, the Cinema Owners & Exhibitors’ Association of India have not accepted the MNS decision and continue to oppose the release of the film. The Mumbai police have promised protection to cinemas playing the film.
Johar, Rai Bachchan and Sharma were in high spirits at a promotional event for the film at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival on Saturday. The festival did not allow any questions on the controversy from the media.