Regardless of what anyone may say, when you have over Rs 50 crore riding on the film, you will heed popular advice. Rumour is Karan Johar’s leading ladies in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Aishwarya Rai and Anushka Sharma, were playing the roles of young Muslim women from Pakistan. Now, the script has changed. They are Muslims from Lucknow and Fawad Khan “has just a small special role, so he was anyways not needed to be part of the film’s promotions,” said a source from Dharma productions team
Experts from tinsel town — Vivek Agnihotri, who directed Buddha in a Traffic Jam, filmmaker Vikram Bhatt and lyricist/ screenwriter Javed Akhtar — speak on the complexity of the issue and offer their opinion.
It’s a complex situation. I believe it is the writer or the director’s prerogative if he decides to change his work. If I were ever faced such a situation, I hope I stand by my creative conviction. For instance, if I were to make a film on Manto, I wouldn’t change the fact that he has lived in Pakistan. However, in today’s scenario where India and Pakistan seem to be at loggerheads, I won’t take up a project that glorifies Pakistan.
We must draw a distinction between the Pakistani establishment and the public. The public loves Indian artistes, be it actors or singers. If there are no public performances by Indian artistes in Pakistan, they are not to blame. It’s the establishment that won’t allow it.
Artistes in Pakistan and India are equally innocent. Their presence in either country should not be politicised.
About them being silent on the Uri attack, I would understand the anger if Pakistani artistes tried to defend Uri or any other terror attack. But their silence doesn’t mean approval. They are being cautious for the safety and wellbeing of their family.”
You need to look at this from the perspective of a filmmaker who has already made his film. Karan Johar has already made Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. He and the producers have poured crores of rupees into the film, so when a political party threatens to stop its release because it has a Pakistani actor, you look at the state and the police for protection. Now, neither of them have been vocal about providing any sort of protection to the filmmaker. So, as a filmmaker, I would feel unsafe in this situation, and would try to salvage the situation however I could.
A filmmaker is vulnerable to political noises. Sadly, Ae Dil... was shot before the Uri attacks but people are looking at it as a violation in context of the present scenario. I do not feel safe as a filmmaker and I think that this is a defeat of democracy.
(With inputs from Dyuti Basu and Subhash K. Jha)