‘Raees’ won’t pay forced donation: Farhan Akhtar on MNS’ demands

Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, who is co-producing Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Raees’ has refused to relent to the demand of MNS chief Raj Thackery, and shell out Rs five crores for the Army Welfare Fund.

The political party, which had threatened against the screening films featuring Pakistani actors, decided not to disrupt the release of films which have already been made on the condition that producers of the films will have to give Rs. five crores to the Indian Army as ‘atonement’.

Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ starring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan was allowed to release smoothly, after the filmmaker agreed to the MNS leader’s condition in a meeting last week.

During a press conference, the ‘Rock On!!’ actor lashed out at MNS for holding producers to ransom for casting Pakistani artistes. Farhan made it clear that he doesn’t support such extortion, and that the government should protect the makers if the film has been made lawfully.

"There is no question of paying any money as the Army has itself denied any money which seems extorted from the producers," Farhan said.

Directed by Rahul Dolakia, ‘Raees’ marks the Bollywood debut of Pakistani actress Mahira Khan. The film has been co-produced by Farhan and Ritesh Sidhwani's Excel Entertainment and Shah Rukh's Red Chillies Entertainment. The film is scheduled to hit theatres on January 26, 2017.    

Earlier, the Indian Army had condemned the MNS for forcing the producers to pay the money as “penance”, saying that the Army is an ‘apolitical and secular’ organisation and it should not be used for political gains.

Former northern Army commander, Lieutenant General BS Jaswal told a leading daily, “The Army doesn’t go around begging for funds. If a film producer wants to donate, he can do it like any other Indian citizen. But it’s unacceptable in such a manner. Let’s keep the Army out of politics. We have stayed that way and would like to stay that way.”