The Delhi High Court Friday asked the makers of Deepika Padukone starrer ‘Chhapaak’ as to why they have not acknowledged the lawyer of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, on whose life the movie is based, for inputs she shared with them.
The high court posed the question to the producer and director of the film, which was released in theatres Friday, while hearing a plea by Fox Star Studio challenging a trial court’s Thursday order asking them to acknowledge the contribution of advocate Aparna Bhat. Justice Prathiba M Singh reserved the order on the plea and said it will pronounce verdict Saturday morning.
The court asked where was the difficulty to acknowledge the advocate and why did the makers even go to her seeking her inputs. To this, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for film director Meghna Gulzar, said there was no contract between the parties and seeking inputs did not confer any legal right on her to be acknowledged.
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing film producer Fox Star Studios, said the trial court did not hear them before passing an order and an ad-interim ex-parte injunction was passed which is unusual.
He said Bhat was only given a draft script of the movie and there was no undertaking or formal agreement with her.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for Bhat, said she had fought the case for Laxmi pro-bono and was not seeking any publicity and she was approached by Gulzar to get some authenticity in the movie.
He said Bhat had made substantial correcting changes in the script sent to her and if they did not want to acknowledge her, they could have at least sent her a polite message conveying it.
Parikh said Bhat’s assistance was based on her communication with Gulzar that her contribution would be acknowledged. Sethi, while reading out certain messages exchanged between Gulzar and Bhat, said the director has not acknowledged anyone in this film, including Laxmi, or even in her earlier movie ‘Talwar’ which was based on Aarushi Talwar’s murder case.
The trial court, on Bhat’s plea, had directed that the film ‘Chhapaak’ carry the line “Aparna Bhat continues to fight cases of sexual and physical violence against women during the screening of the film”.
The film producer challenged the trial court’s order saying it was passed one day before the release of the film and if not vacated or modified, it will cause grave injustice and irreparable harm.
The producer sought setting aside of the trial court’s injunction order, saying it was passed without any notice or summons issued to them and they were not given an opportunity to contest it. Bhat, in her plea before the trial court, had said that despite representing Laxmi in courts for several years and helping in the movie making, she was not given credit in the movie. She had said the film makers took her help in the entire process of writing and shooting the movie, but did not give the credit.