Filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit has condemned Maharashtra Navnirman Senas (MNS) decision to ask all producers who employed Pakistani artists in their films to pay Rs 5 crore each into the Indian Army’s welfare fund as an atonement. He says asking money in this way is “extortion”.

MNS on Saturday allowed the release of filmmaker Karan Johar‘s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” after imposing certain conditions, which included making producers pay a handsome contribution to the army welfare fund and showing film slides paying tribute to the brave Indian soldiers before the start of films in theatres.

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” has been in the news for featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.

“Asking producers who have Pakistan actors in their films to donate Rs 5 crore is unreasonable. Donation has to be from the heart. When forced, it’s extortion,” Pandit posted on Twitter.

The MNS decision followed Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s direct intervention in the matter — a day after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Mumbai and two days after he met representatives of Bollywood.

Fadnavis convened a meeting on Saturday which was attended by MNS President Raj Thackeray, Karan Johar and Film and Television Producers Guild of India President Mukesh Bhatt, among others, at his official residence, Varsha, to resolve the issue.

“I thank Devendra Fadnavis for brilliantly scripting the climax of the release of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’. Ban Pakistani artistes. I hope other industries are inspired by the stand of the film industry and will stop trading with Pakistan,” Pandit tweeted.

“So finally it took arm twisting for the godfathers of Pakistani actors in India to realise that Pakistan is our enemy and we should boycott them. All those who called me jingoistic and communal for propagating the ban of Pakistani artistes post-26/11 have thankfully followed the same line.

“Thank you Mukesh Bhatt, Producers Guild for following the line of Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) of banning Pakistani artists,” added Pandit, who is Vice President of IMPPA.

Trouble for “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” began when the debate about allowing Pakistani artistes to continue working in India was sparked off following the September 18 Uri attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed in Jammu and Kashmir. The attack was followed by surgical strikes that India conducted across the LoC.

The film, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in the lead, will release on October 28.

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