In a show of unity, major Bollywood producers, including the three superstar Khans, Karan Johar and superstar Akshay Kumar, approached the Delhi high court against two TV channels and their editors for allegedly defaming the industry with terms such as ‘scum’ and ‘druggies’.
The lawsuit, by four industry associations and 34 producers, seeks the court’s direction to Republic TV, its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and reporter Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, its editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar and group editor Navika Kumar and unknown defendants as well as social media platforms to refrain from making or publishing allegedly irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood.
It also seeks to restrain them from interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with the Hindi film industry.
The industry has been under a cloud since actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in June and the pushback is the first time that the biggest names of the Hindi film industry have banded together in such a way, said industry insiders.
The civil suit, which cites reportage of Rajput’s death and the subsequent Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) probe into the alleged role of some actors following allegations of drug abuse in the industry, is likely to come up for hearing later this week.
Those who have approached the court include the Producers Guild of India, Cine and TV Artiste Association, Film and TV Producers Council, Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, Aamir Khan Productions, Ajay Devgn Films, Akshay Kumar’s Cape of Good Films, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, Yash Raj Films and Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment.
The producers said they are ‘not seeking a blanket gag order’ but want the defendants to abide by the provisions of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules and to withdraw, recall and take down all the defamatory content published by them against the film industry.
‘This comes in the wake of these channels using highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood such as ‘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 suit filed through DSK Legal firm said.
The industry, the filmmakers said, is unique and dependent almost solely on the goodwill, appreciation and acceptance of its audience. It is also a big source of employment and the livelihood of persons associated with it is ‘severely impacted’ by the smear campaign being run by the defendants, the plea said.
It pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in the loss of revenue and work. The producers also issued a statement that ended with the hashtag ‘#Bollywood Strikes Back’.