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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil release: Mumbai police set up helpline to keep vandals away from theatres

After a group of MNS workers threatened vandalism in Metro cinema, the Mumbai police sprung into action by arresting 12 people and setting up a helpline to prevent further such incidents.

Shriram Iyengar

The Mumbai police is turning out to be a hero for Karan Johar. As party workers from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) entered Mumbai's Metro Cinema and threatened vandalism against the film, the cops have taken immediate steps to assure the makers of the film. Twelve people were arrested in connection with the incident, and a helpline has already been set up by the Mumbai police to prevent further such events. 

The action follows the meeting of Johar and co-producers from Fox Star Studios with the joint commissioner of police (JCP) yesterday (19 October). The JCP had promised to take immediate action against any such vandals. Leading dailies today reported 12 people had been arrested in connection with the protest at Metro cinema. In addition to the police, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke up against the calls for vandalism against the film, saying, "Anyone found taking the law into their hands will be dealt with firmly."

Calls for a ban on the film has been rising since the last month, following the rising tensions between India and Pakistan. The involvement of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in Johar's film has made it a target. Johar even released a video on Tuesday requesting political parties to allow a peaceful release of the film. In the video, Johar said, "“For me, my country comes first… When I shot Ae Dil Hai Mushkil from September to December last year, the (political) climate was completely different. There were efforts made by our government for peaceful relationships with the neighbouring country… Going forward, I would like to say that of course I wouldn’t engage with talent from the neighbouring country given the circumstance." 

Some voices in the film industry have risen in support of Johar. Veteran director Shyam Benegal was quoted in a news report saying, "I feel sad that he (Johar) had to make a statement like that... When you are born here, live here or make a livelihood here, you are going to live all your life in your country.You are an important and successful member of society."  Anurag Kashyap is another director who has taken up a pro-Johar stance in this issue.

However, the troubles seem far from abating. The MNS has promised to continue with their agitation against the film. Meanwhile, the Kamgar Sena have reportedly threatened to go on a strike pending the release of the film. 

Looks like Johar might need the full backing of the Mumbai police to prevent his 'mushkil'. 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is directed by Karan Johar, and stars Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Fawad Khan. The film is set to release on 28 October.