Ashoke Pandit equates Mukesh Bhatt agreeing to Rs. five crore donation with “extortion”

Mumbai [India], Oct. 23 : Condemning Film and Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt's move to agree to donate Rs.

five crore into the Indian Army's welfare fund, filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit on Sunday said the former does not have the right to commit this on the behalf of all producers of Bollywood.

"The IMPA had put a ban on Pakistani artistes 15 days back. Our Chief Minister yesterday called a meeting, which was attended by Raj Thackeray, Mukesh Bhatt and some other people of the Producers' Guild.

Raj Thackeray puts forth some conditions. The strange condition is to donate Rs. five crore to the army welfare fund," he told ANI. Pandit said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) threatened the producers and tried to take the law and order in its own hands.

"Even we had demanded of not allowing Pakistani performers to work in India. But you keep a condition and the Chief Minister agrees to that. It is wrong. Which law is passed that if you are a producer and if you have cast any Pakistani artistes in a film then you will have to donate?" he asked.

Equating the donation demand with 'extortion', Pandit said allowing this is a matter of embarrassment.

"As a citizen of the country, I feel confidence is being shattered and I believe many people of the industry and also the common people are upset with this.

We on the behalf of IMPA condemn this. We also condemn the fact that Mukesh Bhatt has accepted the donation part. Mukesh Bhatt does not have the right to commit this on the behalf of producers of the film industry," he added.

The MNS yesterday allowed the release of filmmaker Karan Johar's 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' after imposing certain conditions, which included making producers pay a handsome contribution to the army welfare fund and showing film slides paying tribute to the brave Indian soldiers before the start of their films in theatres.

The MNS' decision followed Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's direct intervention into the matter.

This came a day after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Mumbai and two days after he met the representatives of Bollywood.

The snag over the film erupted when the debate about allowing Pakistani artistes to continue working in India was sparked off following the September 18 Uri terror strike in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

The attack was followed by surgical strikes that India conducted across the Line of Control. The film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in lead roles will release on October 28.

Source: ANI