Mumbai (Maharashtra)[India], Oct. 18: "For me my country comes first, nothing else matters to me but my country", said filmmaker Karan Johar, breaking his silence on the row over his upcoming film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.
In an emotional video statement, Johar expressed a "deep sense of hurt and pain" by the charge of being anti-national.
"I condemn terror in the strongest terms, I respect our Army, for me, the country comes first," the 44-year-old said.
"The reason why I remained silent is because of a deep sense of pain," he added. Johar, who made his directorial debut with the blockbuster romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, further said: "The best way to express your patriotism is to spread love and thats all I have ever tried to do through my work and cinema." Earlier in the day, prominent industry veterans including filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt met Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar and Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) Deven Bharti, who assured them that they would provide protection to theatres screening Dharma Productions next release.
The meeting took place in the wake of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) veiled threat of vandalizing multiplexes if they screen 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.
CEO of Fox Star Studios Vijay Singh, CEO of Dharma Productions Apoorva Mehta and Siddharth Roy Kapur, the CEO of Disney India and the UTV Motion Pictures were among those present in the meeting.
Shunning long-time speculations about whether the movie will release on its defined date or not, Bhatt confirmed that they would stick to the initial date of release, adding the movie will hit cinemas worldwide on October 28.
"We will see to it that no untoward incident happens and the release of the film is not hampered in any way," he said.
"They also wants to convey a very strong message through their PR department to every common man and people in exhibiting sector that we are there to support you so if anybody would intend to do any controversial incidence, they will be taking care of it," he added.
Reaching out to the MNS workers, Bhatt urged them to show sensitivity about the fact that the movie has already been made and allow Diwali to be a festive affair for everyone.
"I have a request as a fellow Indian to my brothers in the MNS, I am humbly requesting you to let us entertain people on the occasion of Diwali," he said.
Bhatt, who is the president of The Film and Television Producers Guild of India, further said: "Why are we Indians fighting one another? We are one, we are Indians, let us not get fragmented and let the terrorists feel that they have won by separating us.
I know they are upset, we are also upset but we are helpless as the movie has already been made. So, be a little sensitive about that and let's together celebrate a happy Diwali." The CEO of Fox Star Studios on his part said the Police Commissioner has assured them of full support of the state machinery to ensure that there is no untoward post the release of 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe said that all multiplexes and single screen theaters would get protection to release the movie so that no disruption is caused in middle of the shows or in the city as a whole.
For the unversed, the movie starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been under fire because it also features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo.
The MNS after imposing the ban on artistes from the neighboring country, in response to the terror attack in Uri led by Pakistan, had on Monday openly threatened the theaters owners if they screen the movie.