The Indian army has expressed its uneasiness with the force being dragged into the politics surrounding the release of Bollywood movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Recently, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) demanded that producers of films employing Pakistani artistes should pay Rs 5 core to an army welfare fund as “penance”.
The development has upset many senior Army officials and veterans as according to them attempts to exploit film producers in the name of the Indian Army is just to gain political benefits. They also asserted that the army is an “apolitical and secular” organisation.Following Uri attacks and heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, the MNS has taken a hard stand against actors and artists from Pakistan working in India and latter serving an ultimatum asking them to leave the country immediately. The party had also said that it will not allow “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” to be screened in single theatres and multiplexes. However, the film has been allowed to be released after its producers met with three conditions put forward by Raj Thackeray, including payment of Rs 5 crore to Army Welfare Fund. This comes after a discussion between Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, MNS supremo Raj Thackeray and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’s producer-director Karan Johar.
Earlier, Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd, said that their producers’ body would henceforth not employ Pakistani artists ever again in the future.Thackeray had also said that Bollywood producers have to “give in writing” that they will never cast Pakistani actors in their films. Karan Johar’s movie is finally set for a Diwali release.
However, the acceptance of conditions put up by Raj Thackeray has been compared by many to extortion.Former Indian Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal was quoted as saying, “The army doesn’t go around begging for funds. If a film producer wants to donate, he can do it like any other Indian citizen. But it’s unacceptable in such a manner.”
“Let’s keep the army out of politics. We have stayed that way and would like to stay that way,” Jaswal said.Kargil war hero Brigadier Khushal Thakur (retd) said national sentiments should not be exploited like this. “If something is wrong, it is wrong. How can a forced donation of Rs 5 crore make it right? But the bottom line is the army’s name should not be misused for political gain,” he said.
A retired Air Vice Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Manmohan Bahadur, took to Twitter to express his discontent:
Army never doubts the love n sentiment of countrymen behind contributions to its welfare fund. From now on…? #RajThackeray ‘s extortion.
— Manmohan Bahadur (@BahadurManmohan) October 22, 2016