Govt says 'no mushkil' to 'Ae Dil' even as Pak industry supports Indian content ban

NEW DELHI: Although Indian is almost completely banned in Pakistan now courtesy PEMRA, in India, it became a Catch-22: give in or give up. But, ultimately Karan Johar managed to get an assurance that ‘Ae Dil hai Mushkil’ would be released as scheduled on 28 October, after the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met a film industry delegation along with members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.

However, as reported in a section of the media, All India Television and Film Producers Guild President Mukesh Bhatt denied reports that Johar had promised to give Rs five crore to the Army Welfare Fund. Guild sources told that members of the film fraternity had agreed to make contributions to the Fund but no amount had been decided.

Decision taken by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to ban Direct To Home (DTH) service and Indian content meantime was fully endorsed by the Pakistani industry. Famous actor and former director-deneral (DG) of Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) Tauqeer Nasir, talking to APP, said that the decision should be taken earlier, but it was never late to make things right. Director Ashir Azeem said that the ban could be a positive step to help domestic cinema. It might help speed up Pakistani productions, he said. PEMRA continued its crackdown against so-called illegal Indian Direct To Home (DTH) devices and cable operators telecasting Indian content. Customs officials and Pemra raided several markets in Islamabad and seized DTH, Indian DTHs, receivers and C-Lines, and Low noise block downconverters (LNBs).

Back home in India, however, while an assurance was given that all under-production films featuring Pakistani artistes will also be allowed to get released.

However, the Guild members said they would not take any Pakistani artistes in future in their films. ;Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will also carry a special slide paying tribute to the Indian army. But, at the same time, Thackeray said he was confident that the people would boycott the film.

Those at the meeting included representatives of the Guild, Dharma Productions, and producers Sidharth Roy Kapur, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios. They all agreed to ensure the safe and smooth release of the film across single screens and multiplexes. "We had a constructive meeting with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the good news is that 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' will release across all single screens and multiplexes as per schedule on 28 October 2016," said Bhatt.

"I have confirmed to the Chief Minister that the Producer's Guild has decided that going forward, we will not work with Pakistani artistes in the future. Karan Johar said that he will put a special slate saluting our soldiers before the start of the movie. It's a tribute from us to our soldiers," he added. Bhatt also revealed, "In addition, some of the producers volunteered to contribute to the Army Welfare Fund. We owe this to the Army."

Produced by Dharma Productions and Fox Star Studios, the film stars Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in lead roles with popular Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo.

Thackeray said that his party had made three demands at the meeting. Apart from the contribution to the Army fund, Thackeray said producers will have to give in writing that they will not take Pakistani actors in their films. The third demand was to have a tribute to the Army.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had extended the Centre's support to makers of the tilm and assured security to exhibitors amid threats by MNS.

Last week, Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India announced it would not release movies featuring Pakistani artistes in four states of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.

In response to the controversy and the calls for a ban on his film, Johar had released a video statement earlier this week.

In a previous meeting, Fadnavis had assured Johar that the Maharashtra government would not allow anyone to disturb law and order. "The state government would like to reaffirm that the government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine but unlawful activity will not be tolerated," Fadnavis said.

Police had also taken strict action against MNS workers on Thursday for protesting and raising slogans outside Metro Cinema in South Mumbai. Twelve activists of the MNS who had gone to Metro theatre to threaten them were arrested and sent to judicial custody till November 4.

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