Filmmaker Karan Johars “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil“, which had become controversial due to the presence of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in it, on Friday released across India in both single screen and multiplexes amid “slight protests”.

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, also starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma, clashed with actor-filmmaker Ajay Devgn’s “Shivaay” at the box office.

Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association Of India (COEAI) had earlier announced to stall the release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” across single screens in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and parts of Karnataka. However, many single screen owners have released the film, said Mumbai-based distributor Rajesh Thadani.

“The film has released in single screens and there has been no problem at all. I have not heard of any protest, but this is not going to affect the film at all. People who want to watch the film are doing that. Even if there is a slight protest, it won’t have any impact,” Thadani told IANS.

According to sources, there was a minor protest outside Delite Cinemas in a few cities including Delhi by a few political groups.

“Both ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and ‘Shivaay’ are doing great in theatres. These small protests won’t affect the films. As it is Diwali time, footfall at cinemas have been really good,” Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan told IANS.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) earlier gave a 48-hour ultimatum to all Pakistani cine and tele-artistes to quit India or face consequences in the wake of the September 18 terror attack. It left 19 Indian soldiers dead at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

Apart from COEAI, MNS had also announced that they won’t let any film featuring Pakistani artistes release in India, including “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”.

Following that, Karan along with Film and Television Producers Guild of India President, Mukesh Bhatt, met MNS President Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh after which the film finally got a green signal.

Talking about the films’ response, Thadani said: “‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is definitely doing well in multiplexes. However, in single screen theatres, ‘Shivaay’ is getting a better response. As of now, both of them have opened up well. Now coming days will tell.”

With a Diwali weekend, both “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and “Shivaay” are expected to collect a minimum amount of Rs 100 crore, said Mahajan.

“The films are backed by big actors. So, we should atleast expect them to cross Rs 100 crore,” he said.

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