Film director Karan Johar, embroiled in the ‘ban’ Pakistan artists’ row, on October 23 said that he won’t cast them in his films anymore. He also offered to pay a ‘tribute’ of Rs 5 crore to the Indian Army relief fund. These statements came forward after a meeting with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Now, it is an honourable gesture to donate Rs 5 crore in support of the Indian Army. The soldier does a commendable job, standing on walls with guns, keeping the enemy at bay on the borders 24/7 and thereby providing the entire country with a blanket of protection. Their sacrifices deserve more than can ever be paid back.
However, the question of the hour is how the proposal for the donation was made. It is unsafe to assume what talks were made and deals were agreed to behind closed doors. However, can we plausibly deny aggressive and questionable involvement of MNS in the release of the movie, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and the subsequent philanthropic gesture by Johar? MNS has a history of strong-arming any member of the civilised society who hasn’t lived up to their expectations of being an ideal citizen of Maharashtra.
It can be argued that Karan Johar came out in public and gave his statements on not hiring Pak artists anymore and donating a huge sum of money to the army. No proof of any coercion there. Fair enough. Now, let us take a look down the memory lane, 10 years, 15, or maybe more, depending on your age in school. In this flashback mode, do you recall that when you were one of the popular kids, you had a good time? If you were infamous for your notorious activities in the classroom, you had a better time. And then there are the average kids, like most of us, who would happily give away 3 of the 5 parathas from our lunchboxes, in order to eat the remaining 2 in peace.
Karan Johar is that average child. Of course, he resists at first. He has friends among the popular kids, who are liked by everyone and they surely help him at times. But, everyone has their very own problems to tend to. And it is at this moment that Johar makes peace with the situation at hand.
Ae Dil hai Mushkil has been made on a budget of Rs 85 crore. It has some of the highest paid actors in the industry. And let’s be honest, Johar spends an awful lot on fancy locations. His last movie with Anurag Kashyap tanked. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that Johar was coerced into having a ‘change of heart’. After weeks of standing up to his decision to cast Fawad Khan in the movie, Johar suddenly has a change of heart and released a video apologising for the same. Like, I said, there is no rocket science involved.
It seems to have slipped MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s mind that Fawad Khan was cast at the same time as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a tour to Pakistan. Now, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap might have been crude in his use of words, but he does make a fair point here. It has to be understood that India and Pakistan had better relations back then. Besides, the Indian government provides a working visa after proper verification of documents. It only seems reasonable that Johar’s movie be released without any trouble. But reason often does seem to skip over bullies.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parikar too condemned the act of ‘charity’ and said that the concept is “voluntary” donations and by not catching somebody’s neck. He further stated that the Indian Army doesn’t appreciate the donation.
And rightly so. The army men of this country voluntarily put up their names and join the service to protect the country from bullies; external and internal.
The army respects its fellow citizens and vice versa. Extortion of Rs 5 crore from a citizen in the name of donation to the Indian Army is a mere symbol of sheer disrespect for the men who risk their lives protecting the values and lives of 1.25 billion people.
And as for bullies, it’s high time we stopped sharing our food and stood up to them.