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Raj Thackeray rubbishes talk of any deal over Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Producers’ guild president Mukesh Bhatt, too, denied that any donation was paid for the smooth release of Karan Johar’s film.

Mayur Lookhar

Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil faced a long battle to get a smooth release in theatres. The decks were only cleared once the opposing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) dropped its agitation against the film.

The MNS only mellowed down after an assurance by Hindi film producers that they would no longer hire Pakistani artistes or technicians in future, and on doing so filmmakers would have to pay a donation of Rs5 crore to the army's welfare fund.

However, soon there were rumours that the MNS had struck a secret deal (rumoured to be in the region of Rs10 crore) to call off its protests. MNS chief Raj Thackeray has now slammed such rumours and denied any such deal.     

“When we sought a ban on the film, some people launched propaganda that I was doing it because there were elections coming up and started spreading lies that I had brokered a deal. But, let me tell these people that Raj Thackeray is not for sale and our stand on the issue is clean and clear,” Thackeray said in a statement.

“When the movie was being filmed, I knew there were Pakistani artistes and they [the filmmakers] were warned that time. But they did not listen,” he claimed.

Backing Thackeray’s claim was Film and Television Producers' Guild president Mukesh Bhatt. “There was no discussion of money in that room… so why will there be any donation to any fund or a payment of any kind?" Bhatt told The Indian Express newspaper. The producer also stated that the so-called Rs5 crore penalty, as stated by Thackeray in his earlier warnings, was never brought up at the meeting.

Karan Johar, Mukesh Bhatt, and a few other producers had met Thackeray and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to sort out the issue on 22 October. After the meeting, the MNS decided to drop its opposition to the film on the assurance that no Indian filmmaker will hire any Pakistani artiste or technician.