The Delhi High Court today agreed to hear the appeal of ‘Gulaab Gang’ film producers who have challenged its order staying release of the movie which is claimed to be based on the life of activist Sampat Pal and her organisation Gulabi Gang.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice S Mridul agreed to hear the plea during the day after it was mentioned before it by senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for the producers, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd.
The court said it will hear the plea after the producers will file a compact disc of the lawsuit and other related documents before it. The court asked for the compact disc as it is a paperless electronic court (e-court).
The producers approached the division bench challenging the order of the single-judge who yesterday stayed till May 8 the nationwide release of the Madhuri Dixit-Juhi Chawla starrer, which was slated to hit theatres tomorrow, on the plea of Pal claiming the film is based on her group Gulabi Gang, comprising women vigilantes in UP wearing pink sarees.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva had restrained the film’s producers and their agents from “releasing, exhibiting, distributing and promoting” the film in India till the next date of hearing on May 8, saying “irreparable damage and injury” would be caused to Pal if it is released.
The single judge had noted that while the producers might suffer monetary loss, Pal will suffer both financial loss, as her copyright over Gulabi Gang has been used without her permission, as well as loss of reputation “which cannot be calculated in terms of money”.
Pal in her plea has claimed that her permission was not sought prior to making of the film and had alleged that it contains defamatory content which would adversely affect her reputation.
She has alleged that as per the film’s promos, the lead actress playing her character was shown as an anti-social element, wielding swords and sickles, contrary to her real life persona.
While staying the release of the film – censored or uncensored, the court had rejected the argument of the producers that Pal should not be granted any relief as she came to the court at the last minute despite knowing about the making of the film since March 2013, saying it found no merit in the contention.
The producers’ counsel had argued that the intention of Pal from the start was to derail the film’s release at the last moment as she took no action, till filing of the case, after sending a cease and desist notice back in June 2013.
He had also offered that a disclaimer can be run at the start of the film that the incidents depicted in it are not in any manner related to Pal, her life or her organisation.
The bench, however, had rejected the offer and said “simply saying so will not do”.
It had also questioned Pal as to why she moved the court at the “nth hour”.
“You should have come a month back,” the court had said.
Her lawyers had also agreed that she moved the court very late, but contended that she can’t be punished for delay as release of the film could result in causing irreparable damage to her reputation.
The court had directed the film’s producers to immediately inform their distributors about the injunction on its release.
It had observed that while the release of the movie can be pushed back, “reputation once lost will not come back”.
Pal’s group is actively involved in fighting social injustices against women, at times, adopting unconventional means.
It was formed in 2006 by Pal in UP’s Banda district. This region is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages and dowry demands.
It hit the spotlight by punishing oppressive husbands, fathers and brothers, coming to the aid of women being repeatedly subjected to domestic violence.