After inviting the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) wrath before the release of his movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM), writer-director Karan Johar had allegedly agreed to donate Rs 5 crore toward the Army Welfare Fund for the smooth release of his film, but army authorities claim that they have not received any such donation till date.
When contacted, the Indian Army told this newspaper that it has not received any donation of Rs 5-crore in the last one-month.
The MNS washed its hands off saying the issue is now between the movie producers and the Army. The Raj Thackeray-led MNS had claimed that they had laid the “donation for army” condition before Mr Johar for the smooth release of his film ADHM that stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. After the hullabaloo, many people had dubbed the MNS’ stand as a “cheap publicity stunt”, “arm-twisting” and “extortion”.
Indian Army spokesperson, Delhi, Colonel Rohan Anand said that as of November 1, no such amount was deposited in the fund.
“We checked the balance in the account on November 1 and have not received an amount of Rs 5 crore from anyone in the fund,” Mr Anand said. Despite repeated attempts, Mr Johar and his PR representative did not respond to the text messages or the phone calls made by this newspaper.
The Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties is a centralised fund, which accepts donations from individuals and institutions. It is handled by the Indian Army’s adjutant general branch.
When contacted, the adjutant general branch, they too confirmed that they had not received any big donation. “We checked an hour ago and we have not received any such donation in the account,” said an official, who wished to be anonymous.
A high-placed army officer said that they had not “refused” the donation but had only said that it should not be “extorted” and should be made “voluntarily.”
The official mentioned they could not reveal the exact amount in the fund right now. MNS general secretary Shalini Thackeray said that the film producers didn’t pay citing refusal from the Indian Army.
“We did not want the money for ourselves. The Indian Army should come forward and clarify whether they have refused to accept the amount. We wanted them to donate the money to the fund so that it would help the families of the soldiers laying down their lives for us. But if they don’t want what can we do?” she said.
It may be recalled that on October 23, Mr Johar, president of the Producers’ Guild Mukesh Bhatt and Mr Thackeray had met Chief Minister Deve-ndra Fadnavis at the latter’s official residence Varsha to sort out their difference and ensure smooth release of ADHM. The meeting was termed as “constructive” by those concerned.
The movie, though faced political opposition before it’s release, has earned Rs 200 crore at the box office worldwide, said sources.