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With his Ae Dil Hai Mushkil under fire for having Pakistani heart-throb Fawad Khan in its star cast, Karan Johar buckled and agreed to the terms of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to ensure its Diwali weekend release. The Telegraph watched the film on Friday to decode the impact – if any – of the controversy on it.
Q. How is Karan Johar’s capitulation spelt out on screen?
A: At the start of the film, after the studio logos and the partner logos have been shown, there is a five-second white-on-black silent card that reads in capital letters: “In memory of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to protect ours and to whom we owe our freedom and safety. We salute the Indian Army… Jai Hind.”
Q. The Fawad Khan factor was overwhelming in the run-up to release, so what’s his role in the film?
A: In the closing credits, Fawad has been credited under “Special Appearance”. As the lover-turned-husband of the film’s leading lady Anushka Sharma, Fawad’s DJ Ali has just a couple of speaking scenes. The rest of his appearances are in songs and montages, few and far between. But Ali’s appearance, about an hour into Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, does drive the plot.
Q. Are there any other Pakistani actors?
A: Model-turned-actor Imran Abbas, earlier seen in Muzaffar Ali’s Jaanisaar, plays a young doctor who Anushka’s character dates in line with the wish of their fathers. He has a couple of scenes.
Q. Are any of the characters Pakistani?
A: When the film was first announced, the talk was that Anushkha’s Alizeh Khan is a Pakistani girl. In the film, however, no nationality is mentioned. She is shown getting married in Lucknow to Fawad’s DJ Ali. The nationality of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s character Saba is not spelt out.
Q. How has the controversy impacted the film’s content?
A: Fawad’s role might have been chopped and the nationalities of Anushka and Aishwarya’s characters edited out but Ae Dil Hai Mushkil remains a signature Karan Johar romance. With a fun first half, a melodramatic second half, top-notch performances from Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in the lead, it is the best bet at the movies this Diwali.
Q. How has the controversy impacted the film’s opening?
A : Trade analysts say anyway Ae Dil… would have opened bigger than Ajay Devgn’s action-packed Shivaay, but the pre-release fireworks over the Fawad angle gave the Karan Johar film enough free airtime and print space to make the romance open even bigger.
Friday film-goers The Telegraph spoke to in Calcutta downplayed the controversy angle while fan-girling over Ranbir and Fawad, crushing on Anushka or ooh-ing about Shah Rukh Khan’s cameo.
This article was originally published on http://www.telegraphindia.com/1161029/jsp/nation/story_116322.jsp