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Farhan Akhtar rules out replacing Mahira Khan in Raees

The actor-producer said things would have been different if the film had gone on the floors after the recent escalation of tension between India and Pakistan.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Our Correspondent

Karan Johar was allowed to release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil after the filmmaker assured those opposing his film that he would not cast any Pakistani artiste in his films in future.

Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a small political outfit in Mumbai, had told the media that his party had dropped its agitation against Karan Johar and his film after the Film and Television Producers' Guild assured him that no Pakistani artiste will be hired in future and whoever did so would pay Rs5 crore to the army's welfare fund.

The problem faced by Johar could soon be faced by Shah Rukh Khan and Farhan Akhtar as their film Raees is slated for release on 26 January 2017. Raees has Pakistani actress Mahira Khan playing the lead.

Akhtar has now put to bed any speculation of Mahira being replaced, "If we had shot the film after the recent developments [the deterioration in Indo-Pak relations], we would have certainly not worked with any artiste from Pakistan,” Akhtar told a leading daily.

The actor-producer also hit out at the proposed Rs5 crore penalty for producers who cast Pakistani artistes in future. "How we choose to show our solidarity with our brave jawans is up to us," he said. "I don’t think anyone outside the Indian government is authorised to brief us on how to deal with our conscience.”

The actor-producer also spoke in support of Karan Johar who, he believes, was targeted unfairly. Akhtar said the director had shot Ae Dil Hai Mushkil a year ago, when attempts to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan were being encouraged.

Directed by Rahul Dholakia, Raees is co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies and Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment.