Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Monday joined issue with those opposing a ban on Pakistan artists in India, saying the nation should come first and not art and culture.
“I am absolutely clear about one thing — for me, it is always country first. I am not an intellectual, so I don’t understand all these. But undoubtedly like for all Indians, India is the first for me,” Ambani said in Mumbai on Monday.
The billionaire businessman was answering questions from the audience on ban on Pakistan actors and other artists at the ‘Off the Cuff’ show organised by The Print, a digital media outfit owned by senior journalists Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt.
Asked whether he would join politics, Ambani replied in the negative, saying “I am not made for politics.”
The statement from the richest Indian, a known movie buff, comes amid criticism from some quarters of the demand for a ban on Pakistan actors in the wake of the Uri terror attack, blamed on the militants operating from the neighbouring country.
The tension between the two nations escalated after the September 18 terror attack on an army camp in Uri, Jammu & Kashmir, which killed 19 soldiers, and the September 28-29 surgical strikes by the Indian Army’s Special Forces on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The latest move in this regard has come from the organisers of the Mumbai International Film Festival, who have dropped Pakistani film “Jago Hua Savera” in the retrospective section, amid threats of protests at its screening.
The move comes after a city-based organisation, Sangharsh, threatened to stage protests at the screening of the movie made in 1958.
Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on Monday threatened to intensify its opposition to Karan Johar’s soon-to-be-released film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, and issued a veiled threat of vandalism to the multiplexes if they screened it.
Single-screen theatre operators from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa, had last week announced they would not screen “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and other movies featuring Pakistan artists.