Indian Filmmaker Karan Johar has released an emotional video to express his 'deep sense of hurt' over the controversies about the casting of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in his upcoming movie 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' and the accusation of him being an anti nationalist.
Johar, who is also the director of the movie, received heavy criticism for not reacting soon after the Uri attack, where heavily armed Pakistani terrorists killed 19 Indian soldiers.
"There has been some talk about why I remained silent for the past two weeks. Today I would like to clarify that the reason why I remained silent is because of the deep sense of hurt and the deep sense of pain that I felt because a few people actually felt that I am anti-national. I need to say this and say this with strength that my country comes first," the 44-year-old said in a video message.
Apart from Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, and Anushka Sharma, his upcoming movie also features Pakistani actor Khan. Soon after the Indo-Pak border tension escalated, there was a nationwide protest for casting an actor of the 'enemy nation'. People demanded a ban for the highly anticipated film.
However, the Student of the Year director explained that when he roped in Khan for the film, the Indian government was making an effort to establish "peaceful relation with the neighbouring country."
Meanwhile, in his video message he vows not to cast any talent from Pakistan. "I respect and understand the sentiments today as well. I understand the sentiments because I feel the same. Going forward, I would like to say that of course, I would not engage with talent from our neighbouring countries given the circumstance."
The film is in jeopardy after Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association boycotted the film and fearing damage to their properties after receiving threats to not to release the movie in their theatres. A regional political party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has reportedly threatened multiplex owners not to screen movies with Pakistani artists.
However, the Mumbai police department has issued a statement saying: "The Mumbai police will provide adequate protection to cinema theatres as and when required."
Condemning the terror attacks that resulted in major army casualty, Johar urged political parties and people of India to support his film as nearly 300 people have given their blood, sweat and tears for the making of the film.
"But with that same energy, I would want you to know that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears in my film and I don't think it is fair to them to face any sort of turbulence. I respect the Indian army, I salute the Indian army for everything they do to protect us. I respect them with all my heart and I say I condemn any form of terrorism and especially the terrorism that possesses a threat to the people in my country and me. I just hope all of you understand the situation we are in and respect the fact that we love and respect our country over and above anything else."
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is slated to premiere on 28 October, three days before the Indian festival of light, Diwali.