Don’t mess with an Advocate!

R. K. Dewan & Co. | View firm profile

The recent blockbuster ‘Chhapaak’ starring Deepika Padukone and directed by Meghana Gulzar received a direction vide an order by the Delhi Court. The movie, though based on the life of an acid attack survivor – Laxmi Agarwal, received multiple inputs from Laxmi Agarwal’s real life lawyer – Adv. Aparna Bhat.

Adv. Aparna Bhat initially sent an email to Meghana Gulzar asking her to include her name in the movie credits, however, Aparna was told that she would receive a reply only after the movie is released. It was then that the Advocate sent a legal notice to Gulzar and moved the Court. Aparna filed a case of injunction against the filmmakers and Fox Star studios stating that, Gulzar had assured Aparna that the viewers of Chhapaak will know that she had argued the case of Laxmi Agarwal and even shared with her the first draft of the film which included her name in the credits at the end. However, it was only on January 7, 2020, during the film’s premiere that Aparna realized that the line acknowledging her contribution was deleted.

The Trial Court ordered the filmmakers to give credit to Adv. Aparna Bhat, to which the filmmakers appealed in the Delhi High Court. The filmmakers argued that, Adv. Bhat had no legal, statutory or contractual, right to seek acknowledgement for her contribution in the film in the form of consultation, inputs and documents. In view of the facts, Justice Pratibha M. Singh restrained the filmmakers to release the film vide any electronic medium such as cable TV, DTH, internet streaming platforms, etc., without acknowledging the name of Adv. Aparna Bhat in the opening credits. The Court ordered that the line: ‘Inputs by Ms. Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal, are acknowledged’. It was further ordered that the condition has to come into effect from January 15, 2020.

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