Indian film boycotted for featuring Pakistani actor

Fawad Khan's presence in the film has raised the hackles of many nationalist units in India. Photograph:( Facebook )

Mumbai, India Oct 14, 2016, 02.36 PM (IST)

A popular Indian film, which is slated to release later this month, has been boycotted in some Indian states because it features an actor from Pakistan.

Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) said they have refused to screen 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' as the movie has Pakistan actor Fawad Khan in its ensemble cast.

A deadly attack on an Indian Army facility in Uri, Kashmir, last month soured India's relations with Pakistan, with nationalist parties calling for a ban on Indian movies starring artistes from across the border.

The exhibitors' body, which deals with distribution of films in four Indian states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa, said they came to this decision in order to not hurt "patriotic feelings" of people.

"The COEAI has decided that keeping in mind the patriotic feelings and the national interest of our country all our members and exhibitors will refrain from screening movies which have involvement of any Pakistani artiste, technicians, directors, music directors etc," the Association president Nitin Datar told reporters on Friday.

Datar also stressed that the decision was not taken due to any political pressure.

He also said movies featuring Pakistani actors will be boycotted till the time differences between the two south Asian nations are sorted out.

The decision to boycott the film has received criticism from some quarters. 

Renowned actor Om Puri said the decision should have been taken by the Indian government and not the exhibitors' body.

"If the government says not only actors but all Pakistanis, who have come here for business or to meet their relatives must go back to their country and their visas must be cancelled after three days, then I am with the government. Let the head of the country decide this and not us," Puri told Press Trust of India.

Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal said while he has no views on the matter, the decision could have been "political, commercial or social".

The producers of the film are yet to comment on the issue.