Mumbai: Amid tension in the wake of the Uri terror attack and alleged sightings of five armed men in Uran by two schoolchildren, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Friday issued a xenophobic threat to all Pakistani artistes working in India, asking them to leave within 48 hours. The Raj Thackeray-led MNS party has also threatened to bash up those who come out in support of Pakistani actors and artistes. The party said it would not allow director Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees movies, featuring Pakistani actors to be released in Maharashtra.
It may be mentioned here that MNS’ political rival, the Shiv Sena, has also had a similar stand against Pakistani actors and artistes in the past. “We have given a 48-hour deadline to all Pakistani actors and artistes to leave India, failing which we will push them out. We will beat them up by barging in and stalling their film shooting. We will also not spare any Indian producers or filmmakers who are making films with Pakistani artistes,” said Mr Amey Khopkar, chief of the MNS’ Chitrapat Karamchari Sena.
However, the Mumbai police has assured all Pakistani actors in the city to stay calm and not pay any heed to the MNS’ threat. “All foreign nationals who are here with valid documents issued by the Government of India and the government of Maharashtra need not worry. We will give full protection as and when required,” said Mr Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police (law and order), Mumbai.
The MNS’ latest diktat could spell trouble for big-budget movies, like Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees, as the party has threatened to stall their releases. Bollywood’s current heartthrob, Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, is in a supporting role in Johar’s ADHM, while leggy lass Mahira Khan is the female lead opposite SRK in Raees. Apart from these two actors, there are scores of Pakistani actors and artists — such Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, Salman Ahmad, Ali Azmat, Imran Abbas and Mawra Hocane — who have made it big in Bollywood.
MNS general secretary Shalini Thackeray said that at a time when Pakistan is indulging in terror activities in India, the party would not tolerate their artistes working here. “All Pakistani actors working in Indian TV shows and films will have to leave the country within 48 hours. If they fail to do so, we will deal with them in our style,” said Mr Khopkar and Ms Thackeray in unison. Ms Thackeray added that Pakistani actors were hijacking the opportunities of Indian artistes. “We have dashed off letters to Pakistani actors, whose country is allegedly sponsoring terrorism, to stop their acting business here,” she thundered.
Distancing itself from the MNS’ latest stand, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that the Sena has always opposed Pakistani artists and players. “We have been opposing them for last 25 years. Our agenda has not changed because we are in the government. But just because some other party is protesting, we will not protest too,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Johar’s Dharma Productions, which has produced Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, refused to comment. “We have not come across anything yet. If there is an issue, we need to understand the matter first, so we cannot comment on anything,” said an official from Dharma Productions.
Aug 2012: MNS chief Raj Thackeray slammed musician Asha Bhosle for working with Pakistani singers on a TV channel show.
Oct 2015: MNS refused to allow the screening of Mahira Khan's film Bin Roye in Maharashtra
Jan 2016: MNS and Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt a proposed concert by ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali in Mumbai