In a meeting held early morning on Friday, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India have decided that they will "request" cinema owners to not screen any movies that feature Pakistani artistes, including actors, directors, music composers as well as technicians.
If cinema owners decide to act upon this 'request', the first, most immediate casualty would be Karan Johar's upcoming multi-starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, scheduled for an October 28 release. The film has Fawad Khan in a small role. Another film that could be affected by the ban is Gauri Shinde's Dear Zindagi, which features Ali Zafar opposite Alia Bhatt.
Like Ae Dil..., Dear Zindagi is also produced by Karan Johar.
"Keeping in mind the patriotic feelings and the national interests of our country, we the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India request all our members to refrain from screening movies which have involvement of any Pakistani artistes," a senior member of the Executive Committee of the Association said at a press conference today.
He said they are also in the process of talking to other associations from within the industry to support the decision in favor of 'national interest.'
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However, the ban is voluntary and will not be enforced by the association.
Prima facie, it seems highly unlikely that exhibitors will boycott Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a mega-budget romantic drama starring the country's top talent — Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. It is a loss-making proposition not only for the film's producers but also for cinema owners.
A few days ago, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) passed a resolution preventing any Pakistani artistes from working on an Indian production, although a ban on exhibiting completed films wasn't on the agenda.
The ban was, so far, only demanded by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a Mumbai-based political outfit. IMPPA then requested MNS to not cause trouble for the movie as it was shot and completed before tensions between India and Pakistan soared in the wake of the September 18 Uri attack.
If invoked, the move will result in heavy losses for Johar's Dharma Productions as well as Fox Star Studios, which is distributing the film.
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