Pahlaj Nihalani backed the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and said it was wrong to target any kind of cinema for the presence of Pakistani artists. He condemned the protests against Karan Johar’s ADHM which has Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in it. He also commented that ADHM was being targeted as it was a ‘big film’.
Nihalani said Fawad Khan was not the only Pakistan star to perform in a film. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has sung two songs in Ek Tera Saath.
“Ek Tera Saath releases this week. Why isn’t there even a murmur of protest against these songs? Only because it is a small film? Is Ae Dil Hai Mushkil a soft target because it is made by Karan Johar? Why are only high-profile films being made soft targets?” he asked.
“We’ve given censor certificates to both Ek Tera Saath and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Both are equally eligible for release. No faction, political or otherwise, has any right to stop their release,” Pahlaj Nihalani told IANS.
Raj Thackerey-led MNS threatened to attack theatres that screened Johar’s film, earlier this week. On the intervention of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, MNS chief Raj Thackeray agreed to allow the film’s release on the assurance that no other Pakistani artists would be given work in future.
There was also talk of Johar donating Rs. 5 Crore to the army welfare fund. The deal has faced a lot of criticism, with several army chiefs publicly condemning Fadnavis and Thackerey for pulling the army into the issue.
Nihalani also had some advice for filmmaker Anurag Kashyap on his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Kashyap wants the Prime Minister to apologise for his visit to Pakistan. I suggest Mr. Kashyap concentrate on making films instead of commenting on the prime minister’s policies. Modi ji knows what he is doing. But after seeing Bombay Velvet, India wants to know if Mr. Kashyap knows what he is doing,” Nihalani said.
In another event, Nihalani also said that it was wrong to ‘demand proof of someone’s patriotism’. Speaking at a session of Aaj Tak’s conclave Manthan, Nihalani was also questioned about the growing demand for a ban on Pakistani artists.
“Not only Pakistani actors, there should be no import or export. Even the films we send are via Dubai. Our films are illegally exported there. This environment was created by certain people to gain mileage. In this, our film association body IMPPA was also there whose committee members don’t make films but to gain mileage they said ‘we will ban Pakistani actors'” he said.
“The exhibitor association said ‘we will ban too’. I believe nobody is required to give a certificate of their patriotism. Every citizen of this country is patriotic. Nobody needs to give any certificate or fight. People who ask for it are wrong,” he said.
Nihalani said that a ban on the film will only be ‘our loss’.
“If Karan Johar’s film loses money, the Pakistani artist has taken his money, and he also contributed to arts and culture in bridging the gap between the two countries, when the two nations were trying to come together. He fulfilled his duty. It will be our loss,” he said.
MNS has asked Johar to donate Rs. 5 crore to the Uri martyrs. Nihalani said had this discussion happened earlier, the film wouldn’t have faced this problem: “If they would’ve earlier said, give a certain section of your earnings to soldiers, victims, the problem would’ve been solved earlier.”