India’s single wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani, has come out in support of the ban on Pakistani artists working in India, saying, “I am absolutely clear about one thing – that for me it is always country first. I am not an intellectual so I don’t understand all these… But undoubtedly like for all Indians, India is first for me.”
Bollywood has been divided over whether to refuse work to Pakistani actors at a time when tension between Delhi and Islamabad has peaked to its very highest in over a decade.
On Monday, a group of cinema-owners said they would not screen any films featuring Pakistani artists. Because their ban applies to single screen cinemas in four states, trade analysts say there will be no large effect on Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” which releases on October 28 and features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Producers of the film met with senior officers of the Mumbai police this morning and were assured of adequate security at cinemas that will screen the film in the city. Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has hinted at violent protests at theatres that will show the movie.
Yesterday, organisers of the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival dropped a Pakistani drama from its programme. The festival is sponsored in part by Mr Ambani’s new telecom enterprise, Reliance Jio. The Reliance Industries Chairman is a known film buff.
India accused Pakistan of being behing the attack on an army base in Uri, in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which had resulted in the death of 19 Indian soldiers. Pakistan has denied the allegations.
The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association, which represents a number of Hindi film industry employees, has passed a motion banning Pakistani artistes until relations between Delhi and Islamabad improve.