MUMBAI: With his expensive next release in jeorpardy, Karan Johar, the maker of Ae Dil Hain Mushkil, vowed never to make another film with a Pakistani in it.
But he lobbed a question to those 'patriotic' sections that would ban all Pakistani artistes from working in India. In an emotional video statement released Tuesday evening, Johar said: "When I shot my film in September-December last year, the climate was completely different, the circumstances were different. There were efforts being made by our government for peaceful relationships with the neighbouring country."
The video appeal by the director of the film, which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in the cast, left Bollywood debating the notion that patriotism changes with the mood of the government.
The purpose of Karan Johar's two-minute video was to beseech political groups like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to let the film release ahead of its scheduled Diwali opening: "I beseech you to know one thing that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and I don't think it's fair to them to face any kind of turbulence on account of other fellow Indians," he said.
Earlier in the day Karan Johar met Mumbai police officials against the backdrop of threats by MNS to multiplex owners against screening any film that stars Pakistani actors. The police assured him that they would provide adequate protection to theatres as and when required.
Meanwhile, more personalities from Mumbai joined the patriotism bandwagon, including the chairman of the Reliance group Mukesh Ambani. "I'm absolutely clear about one thing. For me, it is always nation first. I'm not an intellectual, so I don't understand all these. But undoubtedly like for all Indians, India is the first for me," he said at an event last evening.
In New Delhi, however, the government distanced itself from any moves to hound Pakistani artistes out of Bollywood. It government said people-to-people contacts between India and Pakistan would continue and that there was no plan to snap them. This was conveyed by foreign secretary S Jaishankar to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs during a presentation on the surgical strikes across the Line of Control carried by the Indian Army on September 29.