Mumbai: Filmmaker Vikas Bahl, accused of sexual assault by a former employee of Phantom Films, has filed a Rs 10 crore defamation suit against Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, his former partners in the production house. The court, during the hearing Wednesday, directed Bahl to make the woman employee a respondent to the suit and adjourned the hearing to October 19.
Bahl, the director of Kangana Ranaut-starrer “Queen”, has sought an interim direction from the court seeking to restrain Kashyap and Motwane from making any statements, either to the media or on social media platforms, against him. The suit, filed Tuesday, alleged that Kashyap and Motwane made “defamatory, slanderous and baseless allegations” against him due to which he has suffered irreversible damage to the reputation. It demanded damages of Rs 10 crore from Kashyap and Motwane.
He labelled his former partners as opportunists, who allegedly orchestrated the whole campaign against him, making him look like the person responsible for the production house’s fall. Justice S J Kathawalla, who heard arguments on Bahl’s application for interim order, asked if the parties were open to sort out the issue amicably. “Is there any way to end this matter? Just check if the parties are willing for this,” he asked the lawyers.
The court also directed Bahl to make the woman who has levelled allegations against him a respondent to the application, saying it was pertinent to hear her too. Justice Kathawalla directed Bahl, Kashyap, Motwane and the woman to appear in person in his chamber on Friday, when the matter would be heard. Bahl’s counsel Sharan Jagtiani argued that even after the alleged incident, the woman was in touch with Bahl.
To this, Kashyap’s counsel Venkatesh Dhond said Bahl cannot trivialise the woman’s allegations on this ground, as she had to continue working with Phantom Films. Justice Kathawalla, while adjourning the matter, noted that while the #MeToo movement was good, there should be guidelines in place so that authorities know how to handle such cases. The judge passed no order on Bahl’s plea. Phantom Films was established in 2011 by Kashyap, Motwane, Bahl and producer Madhu Mantena.
The company’s productions include “Lootera”, “Hasee Toh Phasee” and the blockbuster “Queen”. Soon after Bahl was named by a former employee of Phantom Films amid the MeToo campaign, Kashyap and Motwane dissolved the production house. The unidentified woman employee alleged that Bahl sexually assaulted her in Goa during a promotional tour for the movie “Bombay Velvet” in 2015.