SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Stay on Release of Alia Bhatt’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’

The plea against Bhansali's 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' was filed by a man claiming to be Gangubai's adopted son.

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The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s order rejecting a petition seeking an injunction on the release of Gangubai Kathiawadi, ANI reported. The petition was filed by a man who claims to be Gangubai’s adopted son.

The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J K Maheswari said, “SLP dismissed. Reasons to follow.” The petitioner had alleged that the film portrays Gangubai and his family in a ‘bad light’.

The plea presented before the SC challenged the Bombay HC’s order which also stayed the summons issued by Mumbai police against Gangubai Kathiawadi producers, lead actor Alia Bhatt, and author Hussain Zaidi. The film is based on a chapter in Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’.

The filmmakers’ counsel Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram said, “Censor certificate has been given. So for a person to say that legal right should not be exercised, the person has to show a strong reason.” Sundaram also questioned the veracity of the petitioner’s claim that he is the adopted son of Gangubai, “Not even a whisper of proof of the same apart from ration card.”


Petitioner's Counsel Argues 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' Is Defamatory

The petitioner’s advocate Rakesh Singh argued that the defamation case against the makers of the film is valid. When asked how the movie is defamatory against Gangubai, Singh argued, “They say movie is on book and if the book is defamatory then movie is defamatory...the book says that she was having an affair and then she was pushed into a brothel in Kamathipura. The promo also depicts this...dialogue in movie is also defamatory to the victim.”

Addressing the accusations of defamation, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, “The book is of 2011 and is not derogatory at all. The character Gangubai has been glorified as to how she rose from a background and became an activist and how she was caught in such a situation and how she rose thereon."

Citing the court’s judgment in the Padmaavat case (the court had denied the plea for stay on the release), Rohatgi further argued, “Injunction is an equitable relief and cannot be granted here. There are 2,000 theatres which will run this. Producer, actor, theatre, distributor all their rights run along with this and depend on the movie theatre tickets."

‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ Context

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi stars Alia Bhatt in the lead as Gangubai, a young girl trafficked into sex work. It follows Gangubai’s journey as she becomes the matriarch of Kamathipura and becomes a vocal advocate for the rights of sex workers.

The film had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Fest.

Bombay High Court Dismissed Two Other Petitions Against ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had asked the producers if they could change the film’s title but the respondents argued that it “wouldn’t be possible” so close to the film’s release. Gangubai Kathiawadi is scheduled to release on 25 February (Friday).

The Bombay High Court also dismissed two petitions which objected to the use of the names ‘Kamathipura’ and ‘Kathiawadi’ in the film. Congress MLA Amin Patel and the other petitioners argued that using these names might lead to ‘lowering the dignity of the women in the area’. One plea stated that the film makes ‘derogratory allegations’ against Kamathipura.

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