Mumbai court summons Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali in 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' defamation case

Mumbai's Mazgaon Court has summoned film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi' director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, actor Alia Bhatt along with its two writers regarding a criminal defamation case.

They have been asked to present themselves in court on May 21, on the plea of Babu Rawji Shah who claims to be the adopted son of Gangubai Kathiawadi.

The 74-year-old has stated in his plea that film tarnishes Gangubai’s image.

This comes over a month after a Mumbai civil court rejected a suit by Shah, seeking to stop the promotion of the movie by her name.

Shah had also made a defendant in his suit the authors of a 2011 book ‘The Mafia Queens of Mumbai’. The film is based on a chapter in the book and is a biographical account of the life of Kathiawadi, who ran a brothel in Kamathipura.

He had sought that the authors S Hussain Zaida and Jane Borges of the novel too restrain from publishing or giving third party rights to the book.

He said in his suit that the film and the chapter of the book were defaming the image of his mother and infringing on the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution. Further, that the film is being made only to earn money and has his family’s reputation at stake. He wanted the authors to tender an apology, publish it in leading publications and return the profits made by selling the book. He further stated that his mother was a social activist in the red-light area and had fought for the rights of women there.

The defendants had argued that the suit is barred by limitation as the novel was published in 2011 and the suit filed only in December 2020. They had also disputed that he was the adopted son of Kathiawadi. Alia Bhatt’s lawyers had argued that she is only an artist and has no role in the production.

Bhansali is co-producing the film with producer Jayantilal Gada's Pen India Limited. The film will open in theatres countrywide on July 30.

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Free Press Journal