In the aftermath of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Bollywood came under an assault by certain sections of the media. The conversation drifted from “outsiders” and “nepotism” to slandering the entire industry as “druggies” without any morals. The media also found allies in filmstars like Kangana Ranaut. Every night on primetime, some news anchor berated Bollywood “culture” and how “the rot needs to be addressed”. Stars were named and shamed without any evidence, as rumour mongering and WhatsApp forwards replaced news bulletins. As the “murder theory” was busted, some channels did a terrific u-turn, while others quietly moved on to other stories.
Bollywood, however, didn’t forget. On October 12, a civil suit was filed in the Delhi High Court by four Bollywood industry associations and 34 Bollywood producers against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari (of Republic TV), Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar (of Times Now) and unknown defendants as well as social media platforms to refrain from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood.
The Plaintiffs include production houses of:@aamir_khan, @ajaydevgn, @AnilKapoor, @arbaazSkhan , @DharmaMovies , @kabirkhankk, @FarOutAkhtar, @BeingSalmanKhan , @VVCFilms , @NGEMovies @excelmovies #SonOfBiharAwaitsJustice #NoJustice4SSRNoVote pic.twitter.com/IbPYauPUow
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) October 12, 2020
The studios that have filed the petition include Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, Salman Khan Films, Aamir Khan Productions, Ajay Devgn Films, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment. It is difficult to get all these Bollywood stars together on an awards night, but they have united to take on the toxic news channels in the country.
Filmmakers who are guild members include Rohit Shetty, Kabir Khan, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Rakesh Roshan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Ritesh Sidhwani, Sajid Nadiadwala, Luv Ranjan, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vishal Bhardwaj, Zoya Akhtar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Abhishek Chaubey.
SRK's Red Chillies, YRF, Dharma, Aamir Khan Production and Salman Khan ventures among several other producers file a civil suit against Republic TV, Times Now, Arnab Goswami, Navika Kumar, Rahul Shivshankar and Pradeep Bhandari for defamatory reportage against the industry.
— Priyanka Sharma (@iPriyanka_S) October 12, 2020
The lawsuit has asked channels as well as social media platforms to “refrain from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood and its members”. It pointed out that both Republic TV and Times Now have used “highly derogatory” words for Bollywood such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.
Through a press release, it was stated that “The plaintiffs are not seeking a blanket gag order against media reportage of the investigation in the cases relating to the death of Mr. Sushant Singh Rajput or of FIRs No. 15 and 16/2020 filed by the NCB [Narcotics Control Bureau], Mumbai. The Plaintiffs are merely seeking perpetual and mandatory injunction against the Defendants from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws.”
Fairly certain this lawsuit has been directed by Farah Khan. https://t.co/0gfpSlk41u
— Sayantan Ghosh (@sayantansunnyg) October 12, 2020
President of Screenwriters Association Robin Bhatt told The Quint, “We have come together because some news channels were putting Bollywood in a spot where they were calling them drug addicts, bad people. Their yardstick is not correct. Everyone was hurt. So we all decided that we cannot take it anymore and we moved court.”
Thirty-four Bollywood production houses, including #KaranJohar, #ShahRukhKhan, #AamirKhan, #SalmanKhan, #FarhanAkhtar's studios, have filed a suit against #ArnabGoswami, #NavikaKumar for defaming the film industry.https://t.co/L7kx2eUwHP
— The Quint (@TheQuint) October 12, 2020
On the same day that Parle G (and Baja Auto earlier) decided to pull the plug on toxic news channels, Bollywood has also pursued legal action. Is this the end of hate TV?
The biggest Bollywood studios, production houses and organisations have come together to sue Republic TV, Times Now and its editors, on the same day as some of India's most respected companies (Bajaj, Parle-G) have blacklisted hateful TV channels for advertising.
— Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) October 12, 2020
Bollywood has clearly had enough of being defamed on the “imma bounce” channels when even Karan Johar takes a stand
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) October 12, 2020
You never know. Activist Saket Gokhale called the lawsuit a pure eyewash.
It’s a mutual scratching of backs.
Bollywood gets to pretend like they’ve finally discovered their spine (after public outrage) while Times Now/Republic get brownie points for being such lone “crusaders” that they made Bollywood go to court against them.
Cookies for all.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) October 12, 2020
Entertainment journalist Ankur Pathak echoed his views. “..,how many stars/studios are gonna pull out of Medianet, say no to Filmfare covers, drop Femina/Zoom/Radio Mirchi interviews and appearances at award shows, a time when Times is acutely desperate for their presence?” he wrote on Twitter.