Under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers on Saturday announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar's 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena withdrew its threat to stall the screening.
Johar accompanied by Producers' Guild President Mukesh Bhatt met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his home 'Varsha' in Mumbai on Saturday morning where Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, whose party has been opposing the release, was also present.
The MNS had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Johar has agreed to put a special mention in the beginning of the film paying homage to martyrs, a move to assuage sentiments in the country triggered by the terror attack on an army base in Uri that claimed the lives of 19 security personnel.
Producers Sidharth Roy Kapur, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios were also present in the meeting.
Bhatt told reporters that the meeting was "positive and constructive and 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' will release as per the schedule."
"We discussed the unfortunate events related to the film's release. I shared the film industry's emotions regarding the entire issue. We are Indians first and then comes our business," he said.
Bhatt said they have assured the CM that neither the Producers' Guild nor any filmmaker will work with any Pakistani artiste or technician in the future.
Also, the Guild will call a meeting to pass a resolution on not working with Pakistani artistes. A copy of the same would be sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as the Chief Minister, he said.
"Karan Johar will display a slate of tribute for Uri martyrs before 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' starts playing out in the screens. It is a tribute from us to our soldiers," Bhatt said.
The makers of the film, slated to release on October 28, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in lead roles, will also contribute a portion of its revenue to the army welfare fund as demanded by the MNS.
Thackeray said the MNS laid down three conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with. These include a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the army welfare fund.
The Producers' Guild has agreed to the demand, Bhatt said.
After the meeting, Thackeray said, "I am told that all the three demands of MNS have been accepted by the producers. Before the beginning of the movie, a tribute should be offered at every screening to the jawans who were martyred in various terror strikes including recent Uri and Pathankot attacks.
"The producers should also put a blanket ban on Pakistani artistes, singers and technicians henceforth. Every producer, who has so far cast Pakistani actors, should give Rs 5 crore to the army welfare fund as an atonement. The producers should handover the cheque to the Defence Minister and make the photo public."
The trouble, however, is not completely over for Johar's film as Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India, which has presence in four states, has decided to stick to its stand of not screening the movie in their theatres.
"The stand we took earlier continues. The final stand will be taken by the executive committee on Monday. Maybe, the decision will not change even then as we are firm on our stand.
"Our stand was not according to MNS. The party sat with them and discussed the issue and sorted it out... Karan Johar should come to us and talk to us... There is always a solution," said Nitin Datar, who is the President of COEAI, told.
The association has presence in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka.
Johar earlier came out with an appeal where he declared his patriotism and promised that he will not cast talent from Pakistan.
Before Saturday's meeting Bhatt and a representative from Dharma Productions had met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the Capital on Thursday.
Johar also called on Fadnavis the same day after which the CM had assured support and security to ensure a smooth release.