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Film in trouble, Karan Johar says won't engage with talent from Pakistan

Amid increasing calls for a ban on Pakistani artistes in India and after the release of his latest film, Ae dil hai mushkil was threatened, filmmaker Karan Johar has finally broken his silence on the row.

Karan Johar, whose upcoming film stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, on Tuesday broke his silence on the demand to ban artistes from that country in the wake of the Uri attack in September, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

Under continuing pressure from Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which has been threatening to halt the screening of the film, Johar released a video statement in which he said he wouldn't engage with talent from Pakistan in the future.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is set for release on October 28.

Last week the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association had said it would stop screening films with Pakistani actors. The ban applies to single-screen cinemas in four states ? Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka which would have menat huge loss for Johar's film, which stars Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and Anushka Sharma.

In the video message, Johar said he had chosen to remain silent until now "because of the deep sense of hurt that few people could actually believe that I was being anti-national". He said, "For me, my country comes first? When I shot Ae Dil Hai Mushkil from September to December last year, the [political] climate was completely different. There were efforts made by our government for peaceful relationships with the neighbouring country? Going forward, I would like to say that of course I wouldn't engage with talent from the neighbouring country given the circumstance."

He further said, "Over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears into my film. I don't think it is fair for them to face turbulence on account of other fellow Indians. I respect the Army ... I condemn any form of terrorism."