‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ to release as scheduled in India

Long-awaited Karan Johar film now caught in controversy due to an appearance by Pakistani actor Fawad Khan

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a Bollywood film that is caught in controversy for featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, will release in India on October 28 (October 27 in the UAE) — as scheduled — Dharma Productions and Fox Star Studios said on Friday. It has received a U/A certificate from the censor board, the makers said.

The Diwali entertainer, directed and produced by Karan Johar under his home banner Dharma Productions, also stars Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Amid news that the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) will not release movies featuring Pakistani actors in single screen theatres in four states, producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have said their film is a celebration of love.

Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions, said in a statement: “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has been cleared by the censor board and we are gearing up for its release on October 28. Diwali is all about love and Ae Dil... is all about spreading love.”

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, said: “Karan Johar’s films present love in its most purest yet unique and modern way and this Diwali, he is celebrating love, friendship and heartbreak.

“We are set for the film’s release on October 28. There can be no better way than celebrating Diwali with Ae Dil..., a quintessential family entertainer.”

Diwali will be celebrated on October 30 this year, and the pre-Diwali Friday will see a clash of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil with Shivaay.

The move by the group of Indian cinemas comes as a protest against an attack by militants that killed 19 Indian soldiers in Kashmir.

“It doesn’t matter if they are Pakistani artists, Pakistani music directors or Pakistani directors. From now on we will not release their films,” said Nitin Datar, chairman of India’s Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association (COEA).

The ban applies to single screen cinemas in four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka — and not big multiplexes, which tend to be frequented by India’s more affluent.

Mumbai-based film trade analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP that he expected the ban to affect between 300 and 350 movie theatres.

India blames Pakistan for the raid on its army base in Indian Kashmir on September 18, which saw the Indian army respond with “surgical strikes”.

Following the militant attack, the fringe but noisy right-wing group Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for a ban on Pakistani artists in Indian films.

It also threatened to stall the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, which represents a number of Hindi film industry employees, last month passed a motion banning Pakistani artists until relations between India and Pakistan improve.

Tensions between the nuclear-armed states are high due to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, which both claim as their own.