Mumbai: Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, actors Om Puri and Piyush Mishra have said it is unfair to ban the films, starring Pakistani artistes, which are ready for release, after cinema owners association decided to not screen movies with actors from the neighbouring country.
Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) today announced that it has decided not to release movies starring actors from Pakistan, in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa.
This has put an uncertainty on the release of filmmaker Karan Johar's "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil", which stars Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan in a supporting role. It is slated to arrive in theatres this Diwali.
"When you have decided that you won't work with Pak talent it should apply from now on, it can't be on something that has been already done in the past when the relationship was not this hard. I don't think it is right for one producer to pay the price of this decision," Bhatt said.
A demand for a ban on the Pakistani artistes came up after the Uri attack last month and has been growing, thanks to the support of political parties and people from the film industry.
Mishra said Indian filmmakers should not work with Pakistani artistes till the time ties between India and Pakistan become better, but release of movies, which are already complete, should not be stalled.
"Our relations have not been good but the main cause has started after Uri attacks only. I agree that we should not shoot with Pakistani artists from now on, but the movie which has already been shot should not be stalled from the release as the film is produced by an Indian only. He has invested a lot of money in that."
Veteran actor Puri said it is not a decision made by the government and people should wait for the center to take a step.
"If the government says not only actors but all Pakistanis, who have come here for business or meet their relatives, all must go back to their country and their visas must be cancelled after three days, I am with the government. Let the head of the country decide this and not us."
In the wake of Uri attack, Fawad, Mahira Khan and other Pakistani actors were targeted by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which had issued an ultimatum to them to leave India within 48 hours or be forced out.
The party had also threatened to stall the releases of the Johar-directed movie and superstar Shah Rukh Khan's film "Raees", starring Mahira as the female lead.
Subsequently, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) passed a motion to ban artistes from across the border from working in the industry till Indo-Pak relations are normalised.
It, however, said that the films, whose production has been completed, should not be targeted.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, an IMPPA member, said COEAI's decision is dangerous.
"Exhibitors Association not releasing completed films with #PakActors, due to fear of loss to property, is a dangerous trend. While IMPPA has banned Pak artists, it also believes that release of complete & underproduction films shouldn't be disturbed.
"Govt of Maharashtra should intervene & give protection to theatre owners & film producers to release their films," Pandit tweeted.
COEAI's president Nitin Datar said that the body's decision was not taken under any political pressure, but rather, keeping public sentiment in mind.