Hours after a team of Bollywood director Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and other producers met top law enforcement officials, the Mumbai Police assured protection to cinema halls that screen Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said, “We will provide adequate protection to cinema theatres as and when required.” The statement came in the wake of threats by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to vandalise cinema halls that screen the film, which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
The Cine Owners Association also requested its members to suspend the screening of the film fearing violence. On Tuesday morning, producers Mukesh Bhatt, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Anupama Chopra, Vijay Singh of Fox and a Dharma Productions team met police officials. Bhatt said later, “What we are asking is our legitimate right to conduct business which is the fundamental right of an Indian.” He appealed to his “brothers in the MNS” to ensure a peaceful Diwali.
Johar later released a video statement in which he said he may not work with “talent from the neighbouring country given the circumstances” in future.
Stating that the climate was “completely different” when his film was being shot, he said he understands the present sentiment. “… I beseech you to know one thing. That over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears into my film ADHM and I don’t think it is fair to them to face any kind of turbulence from fellow Indians. I respect the Indian army and salute our army for everything they do to protect us and our environment. I respect them with all my heart and I say no to any form of terrorism specially terrorism that would affect my people, my country and me. I just hope all of you understand the circumstance and situation we are in and respect the fact that we love and respect our country over and above anything else.”
He said he felt hurt that people believed him to be anti-national. “For me my country comes first and nothing else matters to me but my country. I have always felt that the best way to express your patriotism is by spreading love and that is all I have ever tried to do through my work and through my cinema,” he said.