On Thursday night, one of the Hindi film industry's biggest controversies this year broke when Ajay Devgn alleged that self-styled critic and producer Kamaal R Khan (better known as KRK) had been paid money by Karan Johar to criticise Devgn's upcoming film Shivaay on social media.
Devgn's film is releasing on the same date (28 October) as Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, and the impending box office clash has taken on an ugly overtone even before the two movies are screened in the theatres.
Firstpost published a comprehensive report on the controversy on Friday morning.
While Ajay's statement, in which he included a request that Johar's involvement in the matter be investigated, was the first open 'declaration' of the bad blood that the upcoming box office clash has caused, a Twitter war had been brewing ever since the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil teaser released on 30 August. Read about it here.
While KRK took to Twitter to state that innocuous remarks he made in a phone call to Kumar Mangat (Devgn's business associate, who recorded the conversation, which in turn was used as the basis for Devgn's allegations) had been used out of context, he also announced a press conference for later in the evening, where he would clarify his stance. (For a full lowdown on KRK's tweets, click here.)
So what unfolded at the press conference?
KRK clarified that he has not received any money from Karan Johar to criticise Shivaay.
He said that he had lied about it and used it only as a defence for his criticisms of Devgn's film.
However Khan also alleged that Devgn was insecure about his film and in a bid to target Johar, was firing the gun from his shoulder. "Why else would I be so important to Ajay?" Khan said at the press conference.
"Karan Johar never gave me money to say anything bad about Shivaay or for that matter, any film. So Ajay Devgn should stop firing the gun from my shoulder to target Karan Johar," KRK reiterated.
He further stated that celebrities "dragged his name" into any controversy to get more publicity.
"People think if they get their name associated with me they will get publicity. Why else would Ajay Devgn drag me into this? This stunt will only garner negative publicity for the film. He doesn't trust his film and that is why he is relying on critics reviews," he added.
Khan said that he has always given honest reviews of all films and he would do the same for both these October releases as well.
The Deshdrohi actor ended the press conference by saying, "The issue is only about competition. Ajay might be thinking that his film is not too good. Yet he should not drag a third person into the controversy. Instead the matter should be dealt between the two in the same way that Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan dealt with the Rustom-Mohenjo Daro clash at the box office."
Ajay Devgn had shared an audio recording on Twitter where KRK said to Shivaay producer Kumar Mangat that Karan Johar had paid him Rs 25 lakhs to give good reviews to Ae Dil Hain Mushkil and bash Shivaay.
Hear what self proclaimed no. 1 critic and trade analyst Kamaal R Khan has to say. https://t.co/wRc7moSlsZ
— Ajay Devgn (@ajaydevgn) September 1, 2016
Karan Johar has not yet commented the issue.