Amid controversy over Pak artistes, Raees to release as per schedule

Mumbai: Producer Ritesh Sidhwani has rubbished reports that the release of his forthcoming Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Raees’ has been pushed, saying the film will hit the screens as announced.

‘Raees’, scheduled to release on January 26 next year, features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan who is making her Bollywood debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan.

There were reports that the makers were considering to push the release of the crime-drama, after MNS demanded a ban on Bollywood films starring Pakistani artistes, in wake of the Uri terror attack.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), however, had a meeting with MNS and urged the political party not to hamper the release of the already shot films featuring Pakistani artistes.

When asked about the reports, Sidhwani told reporters, “We are sticking to the release date we announced earlier for ‘Raees’. I don’t think something like a ban has happened.

“The association has itself written to the government that people who have already made their films, who have completed their shooting, we should respect that. Let those movies release and whatever the government decides in the future, they will take a call on that,” he said.

The producer, however, chose not to comment on whether a ban on Pakistani artistes was justified, and said he was pained and saddened by the terrorist attacks.

“I don’t want to comment on that (Pakistani actors ban). It is very sensitive. Right now everything is very heated, I don’t think it is the right moment to talk about it,” he said.

“But, it is decision of the government. They have to decide on what is right and what is wrong for us. My heart goes out and I strongly feel about Uri attack…,” he said at the launch of ‘Love Genration’ label.

Directed by Rahul Dholakia, ‘Raees’ is set in 1980’s Gujarat. It tells the story of bootlegger Raees Khan (Shah Rukh), whose business is challenged and eventually thwarted by a police officer played by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui.