Shah Rukh Khan may be one of the world’s biggest and wealthiest actors but in India, that means little unless you are willing to curry favour with the political elite.
The superstar paid a visit to powerful Mumbai politician Raj Thackeray – chief of the nationalist Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MSN) party – on Sunday to ensure the smooth release of his much-anticipated gangster saga ‘Raees’ in the new year.
Khan reportedly pledged that the film’s female lead – Pakistani actress Mahira Khan – would not attend promotional events in India and that he would not, in future, work with Pakistani artists.
The MNS has been at the vanguard of a call to boycott Pakistani artists working in Bollywood in the wake of terror attacks on Indian army positions in restive Kashmir, which are linked to the Pakistan army.
A spokesperson for the party told the Indian Express newspaper: “There was news in the media for past one week that SRK is going to get Mahira Khan to India for film promotions. So he came here to meet Raj saheb to tell that Mahira Khan is not coming to India for any kind of film promotion and he will also not cast any Pakistani artistes in future”.
MNS wields considerable influence in Mumbai – home of the Bollywood film industry.
It had threatened to disrupt the screening of Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ because the cast included Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Johar eventually had to promise that he would not work with Pakistani artistes in the future.
The MNS spokesperson also confirmed that the party would not disrupt any film starring a Pakistani actor which has already been completed but reiterated its call that “going forward, no Indian producer, director or actor will work with Pakistani artistes.”