Director Vikas Bahl moved the Bombay High Court Wednesday, seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from his former partners in Phantom Films, directors Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, and three media organisations for alleged defamation. Bahl also sought interim relief restraining them and others, including two media houses, from posting, publishing and republishing the allegedly defamatory articles with respect to him on any medium.
Bahl had urged the court to restrain the respondents from posting anything against him on social media as interim relief. Granting no interim relief, however, the court adjourned the case till Friday. The court has also directed that the victim, who had alleged that she faced sexual harassment at the hands of Bahl, and the fourth partner in Phantom Films, Madhu Mantena, also be made parties.
In the civil suit filed through advocate Hitesh Jain, Bahl, apart from the damages, has sought a permanent injunction against Kashyap, Motwane and others restraining them from publishing “defamatory” articles, posts against him stating that they are “completely false, erroneous and defamatory in nature” having caused “irreparable harm, loss and damage” to his reputation among his fans, followers, peers and colleagues.
“The Plaintiff (Bahl) states that Defendant Nos. 1 and 2 (Kashyap and Motwane) taking advantage of the ongoing “#Metoo” movement in the country, published false, malicious, unsubstantiated imputations, allegations and statements against the Plaintiff through their Twitter accounts and other social media platforms,” the suit states. It further says that this was done with an intent to settle personal scores, exact vendetta, malign Bahl’s image and destroy his career and due to professional jealousy. The suit further says that the alleged defamatory posts were made with a view to cause “tremendous professional loss” to him ahead of his next big release, Super 30, even as there was “no whisper” in the media about the alleged incident between May 2017 and September 2018.
It further says that while Bahl’s film, Queen, was widely appreciated, Motwane and Kashyap, “were not at their professional best and 2015-2018 and that from January 2017 onwards they were facing creative and professional differences. Bahl alleges that Kashyap even attempted to “bribe, offer money, offer incentives” to another employee of Phantom in order to get the person to make a similar false complaint against him.
Representing Kashyap and Motwane senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond objected to the interim injunction sought by Bahl against them. The court has directed the partners of Phantom Films as well as the victim to remain present before it for the next hearing on Friday.