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Will Not Pay ‘Penance’ To Release Raees, Says Farhan Akhtar

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After commenting that the Ae Dil Hai Muskhil makers being bullied into paying Rs. 5 Crores as penance is ‘unfortunate’, actor-director-producer Farhan Akhtar has now said that he will not contribute any money to National Defence Fund, as his production Raees features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan. He was reported as saying, “No question of giving Rs 5 crore to the Army (for Raees) as they have refused to take it.”

Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was in the eye of a storm over casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. After a series of protests by MNS and the decision to ban the film on all single screen theatres by the film exhibitors’ association, Johar succumbed to the pressure and agreed not to cast Pakistani artistes in future. He also agreed to pay Rs 5 crore as ‘penance’ to the Army welfare fund.

Now, after ADHM, it’s Raees that is grabbing attention, due to the presence of actress Mahira Khan in the film. Farhan Akhtar added that it is the duty of the state government to protect film industry so that they do not have to succumb to pressure from anyone. “We are law abiding tax payers and the state should take care of us,” said Akhtar.

In response to Farhan Akhtar’s statement, Ameya Khopkar, MNS Chief for film wing, said, “Release nazdik aane do phir dekh lenge (Let the film’s release come closer, and we will see how it goes).” Khopkar further questioned the procedure the filmmakers undertake to employ the Pakistani actors. “We all know on what kind of visa these Pakistani actors come and work here. If we open the documents, producers will land in a big soup. When producers are ready to pay these Pakistani artistes, why are they hesitating to donate money to the Indian Army?” he said.

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra himself had succumbed to the demands of MNS in negotiating with Karan Johar.

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. It stars Shah Rukh Khan in the lead and  Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Mahira Khan in supporting roles.  Sunny Leone has been roped in for a special song in the film. Raees is scheduled to be released on 26 January 2017.

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