Don't punish my film: David Dhawan
David Dhawan, the king of comedy, doesn't have much to laugh about right now. Protests against actor Salman Khan for alleged underworld links are threatening the prospects of the director's new film.
"Until Wednesday we were all charged and excited about Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya (MPKK). Suddenly this thing flared up...From where? God knows! It's just so unfair to everyone involved with the film," Dhawan said.
He was referring to the controversy over Salman's taped conversation with Aishwarya Rai in which the actor reportedly mentions his underworld links.
Fear of protests against Salman have led some theatres to stop the screening of the film, which features him as the hero, in spite of a phenomenal opening all over the country.
"What sort of a system is this that prevents the public from watching a film they want to? My film has opened to capacity crowds. But it has become a victim of what looks like a well-thought out plan to malign Salman and bring our film down," Dhawan says.
"And what timing! Why did they have to come up with these damning tapes a day before Salman's new film? Surely there's more to this than meets the eye."
Dhawan stands by his buddy Salman with whom he has earlier worked in mega-hits like Judwaa, Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge, Biwi No 1 and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.
"I'm sure MPKK too would have been another hit if it wasn't for this flare-up. Arrey, kids and women love the film. It's my most wholesome comedy to date. And now if these disruptions continue, families would be scared. We have to stop these attempts to bring down my film.
"It's not just Salman's career at stake. It's so many others...He isn't the only one in the cast. What about Sushmita (Sen) and poor Katrina (Kaif) who has just started her career? The entire cast and crew are suffering. And what about the distributors? Who will compensate them for the heavy losses? It's not just me who's suffering. Such political interventions are a loss to the entire industry," he said.
Though key centres like Punjab and Bihar are untouched by the anti-Salman protests, there has been box office damage in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Sighs Dhawan: "South India is relatively unaffected. In Gujarat we somehow managed to get the film started in the evening show Friday, but under heavy security. Is this the way to see a film? Is this the way a democracy works?
"Salman is being nailed even without proper evidence. Let things be proved before he's targeted. And why target our film? He's an actor in my film. It's not his property that's being damaged."
Dhawan hopes to have amicable meetings with prominent members of the opposition parties in the Maharashtra, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Hopefully, they will allow my film to be screened in peace. How are we expected to make films under such circumstances?"