Ever since the ‘inception’ of the Rahul Dholakia directed Raees, it has been courting troubles and controversies over some issue or the other. Firstly, it was the much talked about clash with Hrithik Roshan starrer Kaabil. What followed after that was the MNS’ blanket ban over Pakistani actors in Bollywood. While the first issue could not be averted, the second one was sorted out by Shah Rukh Khan meeting with the MNS’ head Raj Thackeray. Recently, a video of the Raees’ heroine Mahira Khan went viral, wherein she had said some unsavoury things about Bollywood on a Pakistani TV show.
If all these weren’t enough, the film is (again) courting trouble in the form of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Gujarat unit of Shiv Sena seeking a ban on the film. They both reasoned the same as Raees, in totality, glorified a real-life criminal. A little known outfit called ‘Rashtra Sena’ had even put up banners in several parts of Surat against Shah Rukh Khan as well as Raees.
Reasoning the ban on Raees, Ranchhod Bharwad (VHP leader) said that the title character (which was played by Shah Rukh Khan) in Raees was based on the life of the bootlegger-turned-politician Abdul Latif. Speaking about the same, Ranchhod Bharwad said that, despite India having so many great personalities on whom one could make a movie, Shah Rukh Khan chose (to play) the dreaded mafia don and criminal Abdul Latif. Ranchhod Bharwad added that while Shah Rukh Khan claimed that Raees was based on fictional character, everyone knew that Raees was based on Abdul Latif. Bharwad also criticized Shah Rukh Khan for having cast the Pakistani actor Mahira Khan as the film’s heroine, despite the fact that she had made anti-India statements after going back to Pakistan. He even wanted the government to not just ban Raees, but also book Shah Rukh Khan on the grounds of sedition for making a film like Raees, which promoted hero-worshipping of mafia dons. Not the one to stop at that, Ranchhod Bharwad also said that it was Shah Rukh Khan, who was responsible for the death of a person at Vadodara railway station two days back, amidst the film’s promotions.
As a protest, a handful of VHP and Bajrang Dal workers even started shouting slogans outside a theatre in Valsad (Gujrat), before they got dispersed by the local cops. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena’s Gujarat unit have now asked the BJP government to stop screening Raees, stating that the portrayal of Abdul Latif as a hero would start encouraging anti-social elements and bootleggers. In the same breath, a Shiv Sena leader Ashok Sharma said that, rather than highlighting the police officers who were responsible for taming Abdul Latif, the makers of Raees had projected Dawood Ibrahim’s aide Abdul Latif as a hero of the masses.
Readers may recall that, a couple of days earlier, Raees’ screening had even got disrupted in Dombivli as well, by a handful of hooligans, who had vandalised the posters inside the theatre’s premises.