Last month, an Indian army base was attacked by militants who are potentially from Pakistan, and as a result, Indian-Pakistan relations have been especially strained over the past month. This has affected many aspects of each country’s cultural infrastructure, especially the Bollywood film industry in India.
On September 28, the India Motion Picture Producers’ Association announced a ban on employing Pakistanis in Bollywood, which sparked waves of proclamations and threats on both sides. Now this week, according to the New York Times, one of India’s biggest cinema groups, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, has promised not to screen any films featuring Pakistani actors or technicians. This action threatens the upcoming release of Karan Johar’s new film, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” starring famous Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Johar recently released a video promising to no longer employ Pakistani actors in his films and pleaded for support for his new film, but that hasn’t stopped the film’s release from being swept up in nationalist fervor, especially after far-right Indian political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena issued a warning to all Pakistani performers to leave India or risk violent attack.
Today, Indian minister of home affairs Rajnath Singh promised that steps would be taken to ensure Johar’s film would not be plagued with violence. Mukesh Bhatt, the president of Film & Television Producers Guild of India, said that Singh gave “his assurance, his 100 percent assurance, that he will speak to every single chief minister, of every state, to see that law and order is maintained.”
“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” will be released in Indian theaters on October 28.