MUMBAI: Call it patriotism or fear of veiled threats, but big names in Bollywood have been forced to do a doube take. A day after the MNS issued an oblique threat to multiplexes+ if they went ahead with the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil+ (ADHM) that features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, an industry team sought, and was promised, police protection. However, both Johar and Mukesh Bhatt (president of the Film & Television Producers Guild of India) also made conciliatory noises to those opposing the inclusion of Pakistani artistes, with Johar even saying he would not engage+ with actors from across the border+ in future.
The delegation steered by Bhatt, along with Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Dharma Productions, Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studio, ADHM’s distributors, and Siddharth Roy Kapur, the next Guild president, met Mumbai police chief D D Padsalgikar, joint CP (law and order) Deven Bharti and director general of police Satish Mathur at their offices.
“We’re very relieved after the meeting. Both the CP and the joint CP have assured us of all the cooperation needed for a smooth release of the film. They are taking necessary precautions to avert any untoward incident,” Bhatt told TOI at the end of an hour-long meeting.
“They have also provided us with several helpline numbers that the filmmakers or cinema owners can reach out to in case of any trouble.”
DCP Ashok Dudhe, spokesperson for the city police, said, “We will deploy our personnel and provide security to all the multiplexes and single-screen cinema halls. Our job is to maintain law and order.”
MNS leader Amey Khopkar had issued a veiled warning on Monday that if any multiplex operator across the state dared screen the film, they should remember that their premises are “decorated with expensive glass sheets”.
In an attempt to reach out to the MNS, Bhatt added, “I understand the sentiments of the MNS because they are one of us but have a different way of expressing anger. Therefore, I appeal to my brothers in the MNS, let us have peace and celebrate Diwali together. By going against fellow Indians, you are only helping terrorists create disharmony and gain victory over us.”
Later in the evening, Karan Johar decided to make a statement via a two-minute video clip. “The reason I remained silent for two weeks was because of the deep sense of hurt I felt that a few people would actually believe I’m being anti-national. For me my country comes first,” he stressed before broaching his film. “When I shot ADHM from September to December last year, the climate and circumstances were completely different. There were efforts made by our government for peaceful relationships with the neighbouring country. I respected those endeavours then and I respect the sentiment today,” he said before yielding to the powers that be with his decision to “not engage with talent from the neighbouring country, given the circumstance”.
After the recent divide in Bollywood regarding Pakistani artistes in Indian films, there has been growing support for Johar after the association of single-screen cinemas decided to stall the screening of his film citing patriotism and fear of vandalism as reasons.
When Karan realized that his dil (money) is in mushkil, he became the prudent of the year praising kabhi Modi kabhi nation. It is time we made Karan say alvida to Bollywood. “The industry needs a big warm group huddle at the moment,” said filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt who was present at an emergency meeting called by the Producers Guild and attended by key players from the industry on Monday evening when they resolved to seek police intervention.