Leading Bollywood filmmakers have filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against “irresponsible reporting by certain media houses” in the latest offshoot of the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation. Some of the film industry’s biggest names, including Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, are part of the unprecedented legal action against two channels – Republic TV and Times Now.
The suit has been filed against Republic TV, and Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of the channel; and Times Now and its top faces Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar.
The case asks that the channels as well as social media platforms “refrain from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood and its members”. It also asks that they be restrained from carrying out media trials of film personalities and infringing upon their privacy.
While the producers don’t call for blanket media gag in the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation, they want a “perpetual and mandatory injunction from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws”.
The filmmakers have demanded that the channels abide by the 1994 programme code and “withdraw, recall and take down all the defamatory content published by them against Bollywood”.
The channels used “highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood”, said a statement. Those listed are – “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD-drenched Bollywood”.
The filmmakers say Bollywood is a distinct and well-recognised class comprising the Hindi film industry in Mumbai. It is a huge source of revenue for the public exchequer, earns significant foreign exchange for India by way of revenue from overseas releases of films, tourism etc. and is a big source of employment.
The film industry is dependent almost solely on goodwill, appreciation and the acceptance of its audience, says the lawsuit. “The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the defendants. This is in addition to the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in extreme revenues and work opportunity loss. The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals seeped in drug culture and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” said the producers.
Those who have filed the case include the Producers Guild of India, the Cine and TV Artiste Association, Ad-Labs Films, Ajay Devgn Fflims, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowarikaer Productions, Excel Entertainment, Kabir Khan Films, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Pictures, Roy Kapur Productions, Vinod Chopra Films and Vishal Bhardwaj Films.
This was not the first time that legal action had been initiated against these media houses, the producers said. They had been reprimanded and penalized earlier too and had been found guilty of broadcasting defamatory, unsubstantiated and incorrect news. They pointed out that the channels “indulged in frenzy suggesting that the CBI would start making arrests” after the agency took over the Sushant Singh Rajput investigations.
“These defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as ‘courts’ to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is ‘evidence’ found by them, thereby trying to make a mockery of the criminal justice system,” said Bollywood.