Contradictory reports have surfaced about the presence of Pakistani actor and singer Ali Zafar in Gauri Shinde’s film Dear Zindagi. While some sections of the media reported that Ali Zafar had been dropped from the film because of increasing tensions around Pakistani actors working in Indian films (as with the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil controversy), others reported that he was still in the film.
“Ali Zafar has already been replaced in the film and he has been replaced with Tahir Raj Bhasin, Rani Mukerji’s nemesis from Mardaani,” a source told Deccan Chronicle. The source added that a dance shoot was underway with Alia Bhatt and Tahir Raj.
A DNA report, however, said that Tahir had only been used in a promotional song. Further, a source told NDTV, “Ali has not been replaced by Tahir and is still very much part of the film. Tahir was called on to shoot a promotional music video for the film. The actor shot the music video with Alia Bhatt in Mumbai soon after her return from Singapore, where she was shooting for Badrinath Ki Dulhania with Varun Dhawan.”
Tahir Bhasin is best known for his role as an antagonist in Mardaani, starring Rani Mukerji. Ali Zafar has worked in eight Bollywood films thus far, including Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Total Siyappa, and Kill Dil.
Dear Zindagi stars Alia Bhatt as a budding cinematographer named Kaira. Shahrukh Khan plays Jahangir Khan, Kaira’s psychiatrist. In the film, Kaira rediscovers herself through her encounters with three men (played by Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor, and Aditya Roy Kapur). Ali Zafar plays a brooding rock star.
Following the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, some filmmakers have questioned the MNS directive that Indian films with Pakistani actors should pay a Rs.5 crore ‘penance’. Farhan Akhtar, director of Raees, recently said that it was the State government’s job to ensure a safe release. Raees‘ cast includes Pakistani actress Mahira Khan. The film is scheduled to release in January.