Producer Ritesh Sidhwani has refuted reports that Pakistani actress Mahira Khan will be replaced in his film Raees, which also stars Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique. The reports surfaced after the Raj Thackery-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and other right-wing political outfits demanded a ban on films featuring Pakistani artists.
Sidhwani, who was in Delhi to attend his wife Dolly’s debut show at the fashion week, said “I do not understand where all this is coming from. I would only say one thing: I have shot with the girl for 45 days and finished the film, I hope that clarifies things. I was not reacting to such reports or commenting because I feel that when someone speculates something and you go and respond to it, you are providing a platform to such speculations and rumours. I feel it is better to ignore such things. I don’t want to talk about Raees, I am here to cheer for my wife.”
The 33-year-old Karachi based actress has previously acted in four Pakistani films. Her career initially began as a video jockey on MTV Pakistan. Her 2016 release Ho Mann Jahaan became one of the highest grossing films in the history of Pakistani cinema.
Raees is set in Gujarat in the 1980s. The film is produced by Gauri Khan, Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar under their banners Red Chillies Entertainment and Excel Entertainment. In addition to Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the film also features Sunny Leone in a special song. Raees is scheduled to release on 26 January 2017.
Film actors and personalities have been asked to take a stand on the issue of Pakistani actors, musicians and other cinema professionals working in Indian cinema. The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) has already banned Pakistani actors from working in India until relations improve between the two countries. Political parties like the MNS have said that they will block the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Raees. The two films star Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan respectively.