Producer Vijay Babu Rape Case: Accused’s Passport Impounded; Likely to Have Fled Dubai

Producer-actor Vijay Babu, who fled India after being accused of rape charges, has had his passport  impounded by the Ministry of External Affairs. 

Speaking to Silverscreen India, CH Nagaraju, Kochi City Police Commissioner, says that the police department has asked the External Affairs Ministry to inform the embassy of the accused’s destination country to cancel his visa, as well. “Once the passport is impounded, visa also gets cancelled. So, if the destination country cancels his visa, they can deport him back to India. Besides, we are also getting information that he is likely to have fled Dubai,” he adds. 

It may be noted that a female actor from Kozhikode filed the complaint on April 22, alleging that Babu had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year. 

After the news about the sexual assault allegation broke out, the producer went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. He flouted the law and openly named the survivor. Thus, another case was also registered against Babu for revealing the identity of a rape victim. 

On the other hand, Babu had moved the Kerala High Court seeking pre-arrest bail in the rape case. Meanwhile, the commissioner confirmed that Babu had fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. He further said that Babu has not returned, as yet, but they are expecting for him to surrender before the law. 

The accused had reportedly sent an e-mail to the police seeking time until May 19 to appear for interrogation, informing them that he was abroad for business purposes. When the police responded to the e-mail and directed him to share his location, Babu did not reply.  

Later, a Blue Corner notice, was issued to Interpol to extradite the accused. This is an enquiry notice issued to track, identify or obtain information about an accused who is absconding, and it is issued to the country where the criminal is currently suspected to be hiding.

ED Registers Money Laundering Case Against Raj Kundra, Amid Ongoing Pornography Case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money laundering case against businessman and Raj Kundra, husband of actor Shilpa Shetty, in relation to the production and circulation of pornographic films.

Sources in the agency reportedly said that Kundra had formed the company Arms Prime Media Limited in February 2019. He also developed the Hotshots app, which was later sold to the UK based company, Kenrin, whose CEO happens to be Kundra’s brother-in-law, Pradeep Bakshi. They further claimed that Kundra’s other company, Viaan Industries, had tied up with Kenrin for the maintainence of the Hotshots app, for which crores of rupees were transacted to and from 13 bank accounts belonging to Viaan Industries.

They also stated that the Hotshots app was actually a platform for pornographic films made in India and were uploaded on the app, which offered subscriptions. Explaining how the transactions circulated through the UK and came into Kundra’s company, the sources further mentioned that the profits gained from the subscribers of the app, were all under the name of Viaan Industries.

The investigation in the case began in February 2021. However, Kundra was arrested by the Mumbai Police on July 19 as the “key conspirator” in the case, who was accused of making pornographic videos under the pretext of producing short films for OTT platforms.

Besides Kundra, 1o more people, including his associate Ryan Thorpe, were also arrested in connection to the case.

The accused were booked under sections 354(C) (Voyeurism), 292 (sale of obscene content), 420 (Cheating) of the IPC and Sections 67, 67A (transmission of sexually explicit material) of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.

Later, a supplementary 1467-page chargesheet was filed against Kundra by the Mumbai Crime Branch in the case.

On September 20 last year, after multiple rejections, Kundra was finally granted bail in the case on a surety of Rs 50,000.

Kundra is also involved in another similar case in connection with pornography that dates back to October 2020. In December 2021, he was granted four-week protection from arrest by the Supreme Court.

Following which, Kundra took to social media and talked about the case, denying all involvement in the production and distribution of pornographic content. He went on to term the whole episode a ‘witch hunt.’

Marathi Actor Ketaki Chitale’s Judicial Custody Extended Over Alleged Defamatory Post on NCP Chief Sharad Pawar

The judicial custody of Ketaki Chitale, the Marathi actor who was booked for posting alleged defamatory content on social media aimed at Rajya Sabha member and National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, has been extended to 14 days.

On May 13, the 29-year-old actor, had posted a poem in Marathi, attributed to one Nitin Bhave. The poem mentioned the surname Pawar and without taking his name, allegedly made derogatory remarks about Pawar’s illness, appearance and voice and also called him ‘corrupt’ and “jealous of Brahmins”.

A day after the above post, on May 14, the Thane crime branch booked the actor under sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving defamatory matter) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.

However, Chitale was then detained by the police on May 14 before she was declared arrested.

The next day, on May 15, Chitale was remanded to judicial custody by a holiday magistrate at the Thane court till Wednesday.

As per police’s claims, in the initial investigation, the post in question has been in circulation since 2020 and sharing it could be an effort to disturb the peace and instigate a law and order situation. The police official also reportedly added that all the people who have shared the post will now be summoned.

The remand report also mentioned that the police are investigating the actor’s intention behind posting such content and the use of the word raada, which is slang for “fight” in Marathi, in the post. The police also claimed that the actor had straight away refused to delete the post and has not ‘shown any regret’ regarding the same.

Pertaining to the same case, the Powai police also filed a First Information Report against Chitale which takes the number of FIRs against her to six including Bhoiwada and Goregaon.

Update: Following the extension of the judicial custody, Chitale moved the Thane court on Wednesday seeking bail based on the fact that the poem was about some ‘Pawar’ and not the NCP chief and no one named Pawar has filed a complaint against her. Another ground on which she sought bail is that the Thane Crime Branch has allegedly committed serious errors by arresting her on the basis of her words by applying Sections 505(2), 153A and 500 of the IPC and that the police had no authority to arrest Chitale without issuing a notice as under Section 41A of the CrPC and reiterated by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar guidelines. The hearing for her bail has been scheduled for Friday.

Amber Heard Said that it Was Difficult to Keep Her Role in ‘Aquaman 2’, After Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Released Statements About Her

On Tuesday, actor Amber Heard said that it was difficult for her to keep her role in the upcoming film Aquaman 2, after ex-husband Johnny Depp‘s lawyer released statements about Heard, in relation to an incident from 2016.

Adam Waldman, Depp’s lawyer, released a statement from 2016, after Heard called the police alleging that Depp had attacked her and damaged her property.

Waldman’s statement on Heard was a part of a 12-page article in a publication that read, “The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property.”

He added, “So, Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then, placed a second call to 911.”

Heard claimed that during the ongoing defamation case, the online attention generated by the aforementioned statements, impacted her professional commitments. Cosmetic brand L’oreal had suspended using her material in its global campaign. Heard mentioned that aside from being left out from the press obligations of the series The Stand, she also did not hear from the makers of Aquaman 2, regarding the film’s schedule.

“They (the makers of Aquaman 2) released me from my contract, and I fought to stay in it. They kept me in it. I just don’t know how much I’m in the final cut,” said Heard, when she was questioned about the film by Depp’s legal counsel, Camille Vasquez.

Heard plays the role of Mera in the DC films, and appeared in the first instalment of Aquaman alongside Jason Momoa, in 2018.

“I auditioned, not Johnny. I worked really hard and I went to where we were filming the first movie, The Justice League. I went five-and-a-half months before filming commenced, when I heard that they wanted to fire me. I worked really hard and I had to prove myself. I did that. Even though I was filming for six days, I was there for six months,” Heard told the jury, during redirection from her team.

She added that she saw messages and mails which prove that Depp had tried to get her fired from the project, before the judge struck her statement as ‘hearsay.’

Both Heard and Depp have claimed that they have lost out on prospective work, owing to the current legal battle, which had begun when Heard filed for divorce in 2016, accusing Depp of domestic abuse. While the duo had reached a settlement on their divorce in 2017, Heard subsequently wrote the op-ed piece in question, in 2018, that earned her a $50 million defamation suit from Depp.

Heard filed a counter-claim of $100 million, and based it on Waldman’s statements.

Vasquez further noted that L’oreal had extended her contract in 2020 and 2021.

She further argued that Heard’s engagement on the projects was concealed because of the “ongoing negative publicity campaign” back then, around her relationship with Depp. Heard responded and said that it was an “orchestrated smear campaign” that she alleged was perpetrated by Depp’s team, including publishing a leaked audio tape.

Tuesday’s trial concluded Heard’s time on the witness stand.

Later, Heard’s legal attorney had filed for striking the motion, which was dismissed by Judge Penney Azcarate.

While dismissing the strike motion for a second time in the duration of the trial, Azcarate noted, “I know that a mere hyperlink without more cannot constitute republication. However, here, there’s additional content that could constitute republication in this matter. So, there is evidence of ownership and additional content that the jury could find constitutes republication, and that is a factual question that does survive a motion to strike.”

The tweet in question was posted by Heard, in 2018, a day after the op-ed piece was published by The Washington Post. She had attached a link to the digital article to her tweet, and wrote, “Today, I published this op-ed in The Washington Post about the women who are channeling their rage about violence and inequality into political strength despite the price of coming forward.”

The headline of the article on Washington Post‘s online platform read, Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

Heard claimed that she spoke about a bigger issue than Depp in the op-ed, and that it primarily referred to the time after she had sought a restraining order against Depp in 2016.

After Heard, her friend IO Tillet Wright took the stand and testified virtually, on Tuesday. The trial that is expected to end on May 27, is being conducted at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

NCPCR Summons Twitter’s Director for Taking No Action Against Kunal Kamra’s Post

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has summoned the director of Twitter Communications India on Wednesday, for not taking strict actions against comedian Kunal Kamra, regarding his Twitter post of a “doctored video” that featured a minor boy, singing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the notice accessed by Silverscreen India, the Commission, exercising the functions and powers under Sections 13 and 14 of CPCR Act, 2005, summoned the Twitter official through video conference, demanding “the details of the actions taken in this matter” at 2.30 pm at the commission’s office in New Delhi.

During the conference, the director was required to explain the reasons for the delay in the submission of the report against Kamra, and to provide explanations to the commission regarding an incomplete report submitted, on the same matter.

In the previous letter issued on May 5, the commission had asked Twitter to take down the video immediately, and submit a report of subsequent actions taken against the comedian, within seven days. The letter was sent to the Delhi Police, as well.

NCPCR noted that they had received a complaint about the video on May 5, alleging that Kamra had posted the video “to further his own political agendas.”

The now deleted video shared by the comedian, featured Modi in Germany, from his recent three-day visit to Europe, and a boy singing Hey Janmabhoomi Bharat to him. Kamra reportedly re-shared the video, while replacing the song with Mehengayi daayan khaaye jaat hain. 

The boy’s father, Ganesh Pol, had responded to Kamra’s post and wrote, “He is my 7-year-old son, who wanted to sing this song for his beloved motherland. Though he is still very young but certainly he loves his country more than you Mr. Kamra or Kachra, whatever you are. Keep the poor boy out of your filthy politics and try to work on your poor jokes.

Kamra recently responded to the same, and admitted his mistake.

“Meeting the PM and getting their attention could really help boost the morale of a child, and I should have been empathetic towards that emotion of a father. I stand corrected. My apologies. Proceed legally not evading that, just stand corrected,” he wrote.

‘Doctor Strange’ Actor Zara Phythian & her Husband Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse

Actor and martial arts instructor Zara Phythian, who appeared in Doctor Strange (2016), has been convicted of child sexual abuse, along with her husband Victor Marke.

She has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Phythian and Marke have been convicted of jointly abusing minors, with the latter facing 14 years of jail-time. The couple was found guilty of sexually abusing a minor girl, between 2005 and 2008, when she was 13 years of age.

In a pre-recorded statement, the victim said, “I think they saw a vulnerability in me and preyed on that,” and added, “I have become an adult now. All the pain, anger and disgust and shame I felt is now on you. Both of you.”

Prior to passing the sentence, Judge Mark Watson noted that he believed that the joint abuse of the victim was pre-planned.

Watson further told Marke, “I regard you as the driving force behind the abuse. Most people have held, and continue to hold you in high esteem. That’s due to the positive impact of your work (as martial arts instructors).”

“Whilst that may help in mitigation, that is also why you were able to groom and corrupt the victims in this case and why you got away abusing them for so long,” Watson added.

The judge further noted that Phythian’s “deviance” was caused by Marke’s influence on her from an early age, and added, “Having said that, none of this excuses what you did – these were choices you made. You were, by then, successful in your own right. You chose to play your part.”

It is to be noted that the couple partook in the sexual crimes, before Phythian rose to prominence in her career as a martial arts instructor, and her appearance in the Marvel film as Brunette Zealot.

Marke was also found guilty of sexually abusing another woman on multiple occasions, between 2002 and 2003, when she was 16 years old. The accounts of sexual abuse began, after the second victim had accidentally touched Marke’s leg. It was reported that Marke had also touched her leg, and had kissed her on her lips and neck. He had also touched her beneath her clothing, and had been physically inappropriate on other occasions, before having sex with her.

Johnny Depp’s Counsel Claims that Elon Musk Donated $500,000 to ACLU & a Children’s Hospital, on Amber Heard’s Behalf

Actor Johnny Depp‘s legal counsel has claimed that Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, paid $500,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, on behalf of Amber Heard, on day 16 of the ongoing defamation case between Heard and Depp.

“I believe Elon (Musk) made a donation in my honor on one of the years,” Heard testified, but added that the amount did not count towards her pledge to donating to the charity.

Musk’s name came up during Heard’s cross-examination by Camille Vasquez, after Vasquez said that Heard had failed to fulfill her obligation, by not paying the donation amount to both ACLU and the children’s hospital. She stated that Musk and Heard were reportledly together, when the former had made the payment.

Musk was expected to testify in the high-profile case, along with others like Paul Bettany and James Franco, but he has not made an appearance, as of yet.

The ongoing legal battle between Depp and Heard began when the latter filed for divorce in 2016 accusing Depp of domestic abuse. While the duo had reached a settlement on their divorce in 2017, Heard subsequently wrote the op-ed piece, which Depp claims defamed him and resulted in him losing several projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean.

It has been reported earlier that Depp had paid $7 million to Heard as part of the divorce settlement, which the latter had pledged to donate equally among the two organisations, as charity. Although Heard had received the full amount by October 2018, she testified that she had failed to fulfill her prior obligations as Depp had sued her. Earlier in the trial, an executive from the ACLU had also testified that Heard had not made the donations despite promising to donate $3.5 million for the cause of domestic abuse victims.

Now, Vasquez said that in addition to paying $7 million to Heard, Depp had paid $100,000 to both organisations, in Heard’s name, for which she testified the same. She also confirmed that Musk’s $500,000 were not paid out of the divorce settlement.

The ongoing trial resumed a week after Heard testified that she “had to push away as many scripts as possible”, or minimise intimate scenes in the script, scrap scenes that required nudity, and change her wardrobe, in order to maintain her relationship with Depp.

Heard also claimed that she had to let go of her “dream project” with writer Clive Barker, after Depp accused her of sleeping with the writer, who is terminally ill and bed-ridden.

She added that Depp would tease her with the names of her male co-stars like James Franco and Eddie Redmayne, and taunt her about being intimate with them.

The trial, which resumed on Monday, began with Heard’s team redirecting questions her. During her testimony in the first half, the Aquaman actor denied being diagnosed with mental health issues like anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder – a major point of contention, after clinical psychologist Dr Shannon Curry testified that she had diagnosed Heard with histrionic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Heard’s cross-examination will continue on Tuesday, at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale Remanded Police Custody for Alleged Derogatory Remark on NCP Chief Sharad Pawar

Ketaki Chitale, the Marathi actor, has been remanded in judicial custody till May 18 by a Thane Court on Sunday. She was booked on Saturday for allegedly posting derogatory comments on social media aimed at Rajya Sabha member and National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.

The 29-year-old actor has been vocal about several issues including gender equality, patriarchy and also runs an ongoing campaign on the disease of epilepsy called #acceptepilepsy.

On Friday, the actor had posted a poem in Marathi which was attributed to another person, Advocate Nitin Bhave. The poem only mentioned the surname Pawar without the name and reagrding his age 80 and physical ailments which the NCP leader is also suffering from. The poem made derogatory remarks on Pawar’s illness, appearance, voice and also called him corrupt, liar and that he is “jealous of Brahmins”.

As of Sunday afternoon, the post has 11,000 likes and 9,000 comments and has been shared over 650 times.

The Thane crime branch, on Saturday, booked the actor under sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving defamatory matter) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.

She was reportedly detained by the police on Saturday before she was declared arrested.

Earlier, in 2020, Chitale was reportedly booked for a social media post which was allegedly insulting towards the Dalit community. Even before that, the actor allegedly made comments on other religious and also on the Indian ruler Chhatrapti Shivaji that created controversies.

Chitale’s arrest marks the second arrest for making derogatory remarks against Pawar after a 21-year-old student and resident of Nashik district Nikhil Bhamre who is also a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker had also been booked for his tweet.

Without naming Pawar, the tweet read, “Time has come for Baramati’s Gandhi……to create Nathuram Godse of Baramati.”

Baramati in Pune district is Pawar’s birthplace as well as constituency.

Britney Spears Announces Miscarriage of her Baby with Sam Asghari

Britney Spears, the American pop singer, on Sunday, said that she had lost their child due to miscarriage with her fiance and model Sam Asghari.

In a long social media post, the singer wrote, “It is with deepest sadness we have to announce that we have lost our miracle baby early in the pregnancy. This is a devastating time for any parent.”

“Perhaps we should have waited to announce until we were further along however we were overly excited to share the good news. Our love for each other is our strength. We will continue trying to expand our beautiful family.”

The couple, further, expressed their gratitude towards their supporters and asked for privacy during such a time. “We are grateful for all of your support. We kindly ask for privacy during this difficult moment.”

The 40-year-old singer had announced her pregnancy earlier in April, months after the end of her conservatorship, which gave her father control over both her personal and professional life.

Spears’ 13-year long conservatorship with her father Jamie Spears came to an end, after years of legal battle in November 2021.

The pop singer had been in what she termed an “abusive” conservatorship with her father since 2008, following the singer’s public meltdowns during her divorce and custodial battle with Kevin Federline.

In June 2021, during one of the hearings in the case, Spears addressed her own trauma over the years, directly to the judge in a 24-minute speech, which was live-streamed.

She spoke about her mental health, the therapy and medical treatment she had taken, and how she was monitored and looked after by six different nurses and psychiatrists, who had put her on high doses of medication that had impacted her health.

It was during this hearing, that Spears mentioned that she had gotten an Intrauterine Device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy, which she had wanted to take out but was not allowed to, at the time. She also mentioned that she was not allowed to get married or pregnant, as per the terms of her conservatorship.

“So, basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she had said.

Two months before the conservatorship ended and just days after her father had filed a petition to end the legal arrangement, Spears had announced her engagement to long-term partner Sam Asghari through social media, in September.

Malayalam Actor and Model Sahana Found Dead at Kozhikode Residence, Husband Being Questioned

Sahana Sajad, the Malayalam actor and model, was found dead in her rented Kozhikode residence on Friday. Her husband has been taken into custody after allegations of assault from the actor’s family.

It was the late actor’s 22nd birthday when her husband Sajad reportedly claimed that he found her dead in the bathroom at her residence in Parambil Bazar.

The neighbours of the couple were alerted by the actor’s husband late on Thursday that his wife was not well and on reaching their home, they found her lying on his lap, as the Kozhikode Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sudarshan, who is investigating the case told media.

Native to the Kasargode district in Kerala, the actor was rushed to the Kozhikode government hospital where the doctors declared her dead.

While the actor’s mother, Umaiban, has reportedly told the police that Sahana would never take a step toward suicide and that she was murdered. She further alleged that Sahana had earlier informed her about regular torture and drunken fights initiated by Sajad. The actor also alleged that her husband also pestered her for dowry and had sold off all her jewellery.

“Sajad is responsible for her death. He and his parents and his sister used to regularly misbehave with my daughter and recently he had beaten her and forced her to hand over a cheque she received as remuneration on a modelling assignment,” the actor’s mother alleged.

Sahana’s mother also informed the police that the actor and her husband were living separately for the past some time. The neighbours also reportedly agreed with Sahana’s mother regarding the couple not having a good relationship for some time now and that they had regular fights, They also mentioned that the actor was keeping busy in the recent times with her assignments in the Tamil film industry as well.

As per the police, Sajad is being questioned and his arrest would be recorded after further investigation of the case.

Malayalam actor Munna who worked with Sahan on her latest project took to social media to share a picture from their last day of shooting and a video with her from their early shooting days.

“Never knew this will be our last pictures together. Taken on the last day of (the) shoot. Such a promising actress. Truth should come out soon. Can’t still believe you left all of us. Too young, no words to say. Just prayers. RIP”

Former Australian Cricketer Andrew Symonds Dies in Road Accident

Andrew Symonds, the former Australian international cricketer, died in a car crash on Saturday night. He was 46.

The cricketer was reportedly the only passenger in the crash. It took place just outside of Townsville in his home state of Queensland. The police confirmed that a 46-year-old man had succumbed at the scene.

Shortly after 11 pm, the car was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled, as per early information through the police statement.

“Emergency services attempted to revive the 46-year-old driver and sole occupant, however, he died of his injuries. The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating,” the police statement read.

Symonds, who played as a right-handed batsman and was well-known for his sublime fielding whether in the outfield or inside the circle, was an integral part of Australia’s white-ball cricket between 1999 and 2007.

The former cricketer averaged 40.61 runs from 26 Tests for his country and featured in 198 ODIs (One Day Internationals) scoring six centuries and 30 half-centuries. He also contributed 133 wickets with his more than handy off-spin and medium pace and played 14 T20 Innings for Australia securing 337 runs and eight wickets.

Symonds was part of two World Cup-winning teams- 2003 and 2007. He was signed for the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Deccan Chargers from Hyderabad as the second most expensive player in the league at the time. However, in the fourth season of the league, Symonds was contracted by the Mumbai Indians.

In 2012, he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.

Cricketers and teams from all over the took to social media to pay their tributes and express condolences on the cricketer’s demise.

Shocked to hear about the sudden demise of Andrew Symonds. Gone too soon. Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. Prayers for the departed soul #RIPSymonds,” wrote Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh. 

Australian cricket club wrote, “Vale Andrew Symonds. We are shocked and saddened by the loss of the loveable Queenslander, who has tragically passed away at the age of 46.”

“The Club is shocked & saddened to learn of the passing of former overseas star and cult hero, Andrew Symonds. The thoughts of everyone at Kent Cricket are with Roy’s family & friends at this desperately sad time,” wrote Kent County Cricket Club.

Australian Cricketer Genn Maxwell wrote, “Can’t believe what I’ve just woken up to  Thinking of his family, his teammates and everyone in the cricket community. We’ve lost another one of our hero’s #RIPRoy”

Other Indian and International cricketers who paid their tribute on social media include Yuzvendra Chahal, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Wasim Jaffer, Shoeb Akhtar, Suresh Raina, Damien Fleming, and IPL teams including Gujarat Titans, Sun Risers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Kolkata Knight Riders, among several others.

Symonds is survived by his wife Laura and children Chloe and Billy.

Explainer: All About the Sedition Law the Supreme Court Recently Stayed

The Supreme Court, in an interim order on Wednesday, passed directions to stop registering cases under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises ‘Sedition’, and stay all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings under it.

This provides an opportunity for the many journalists, activists, and scholars currently booked under the Sedition Law to approach trial courts for bail as well as relief, in their respective cases.

What is the Sedition Law?

Section 124A of the IPC criminalises ‘sedition’. It states that “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government estab­lished by law in India shall be punished with im­prisonment for life.”

The definition of “disaffection” includes “disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.” But the law also states that comments that disapprove of the government’s measures with a motive to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without attempting to incite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section. Likewise, comments expressing disapprobation of the admin­istrative or other government actions without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

Introduced in the late 1800s during the Colonial era, the Sedition Law was initially used against Indian political leaders, who revolted against the British rule and fought for independence in the 18th and 19th centuries. In independent India, this law been severely criticised, time and again, for its misuse to curb freedom of speech in the country.

Sedition cases over the past decade 

There were over 800 sedition cases pending across the country and approximately 13000 people were in jail between 2010 and 2021, as per a sedition database compiled by Article 14. Those charged under the law include journalists, activists, scholars, and academicians. As per the database, 106 of the sedition cases filed in this 11-year period were against those who allegedly posted “anti-national” or “pro-Pakistan” content on social media. All but one of these were filed after 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the centre.

The data also reveals that 96% of the sedition cases filed against 405 Indians, for criticising politicians and governments in those 11 years, were registered after 2014. Further, 149 of them were accused of making “critical and/or derogatory” remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and 144 of them were against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Among those charged are the 16 activists and scholars who were detained in the Bhima Koregaon case in 2018. Aside from 82-year-old poet-activist Varavara Rao and 60-year-old lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who are currently out on bail, and 84-year-old activist Father Stan Swamy, who died in custody last year, the remaining 13 are still in prison awaiting trial in the case.

Siddique Kappan, the Kerala-based freelance journalist, is also imprisoned under the Sedition Law. He was arrested in October 2020, while covering the gang-rape case in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, along with three others. They too are awaiting trial.

Challenge to the Sedition Law

Eight petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Sedition Law, by the Editors Guild of India, Major General SG Vombatkare (Retd), former Union Minister Arun Shourie, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and others.

As per the Editors Guild, the Sedition Law has been “used far too often by Central and State governments against journalists, in an effort to curb independent reporting.”

The petitioners also pointed out that the provisions of the law date back to 1898, pre-dating the Constitution itself, and are being misused.

The Supreme Court, in its ruling, observed that “the rigours of Section 124A of IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu, and was intended for a time when this country was under the colonial regime.”

The court further mentioned that it is necessary to maintain a balance between both the interests of security as well as the State’s wellbeing, while taking into account the “civil liberties of citizens.”

It thus passed the order stating that “the State and Central Governments will restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC, while the aforesaid provision of law is under consideration.”

In case of any fresh case is registered under the section, affected parties have the liberty to approach the concerned court for appropriate relief.

The court also directed that “all pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed under Section 124A of IPC be kept in abeyance.”

These directions will remain in effect until further orders are passed. The court has listed the petitions for hearing again in the third week of July.

Florida Judge Dismisses Residents’ Lawsuit over Dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek Special District

After Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the dissolution of special districts in the state, including Disney’s Reedy Creek, residents of the adjacent county filed a lawsuit to block the move alleging that they would suffer a tax increase if it went through. Now, a Florida Judge has dismissed this suit rejecting the rights of these residents to sue on behalf of Disney.

US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga observed that the complainants had not suffered any injuries as yet from the action of the lawmakers. “Even more critically, the plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that Disney faces any hindrance in asserting its own First Amendment rights. Far from it: the plaintiffs expressly allege that they ‘expect Disney and the State of Florida to litigate this matter for a significant period of time’. That fact alone warrants dismissal.”

Reedy Creek is a special district in Florida that was created for a particular purpose and has the jurisdiction to operate within a limited geographic boundary. It governs the recreational space of Walt Disney World, which is spread across 25000 acres of property, in Orange and Osceola counties.

As a result of Disney’s independent jurisdiction of the area, the multimedia giant has been solely responsible for the costs of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection, etc, thereby, exempting the residents of the counties from paying for the same.

The Florida legislature’s decision to dissolve the special district is perceived to be detrimental by the residents, who believe that they might have to take on the debts of Reedy Creek as well as ensure the maintenance of services.

Judge Altonaga noted that the plaintiffs’ theory was that the elimination of the Reedy Creek Improvement District might result in financial harm to them by virtue of a tax increase that has not yet been enacted. She called the suit “indirect and highly speculative.”

Altonaga also observed that the case was filed at the wrong court as her federal court had no jurisdiction over state law claims.

The bill is expected to be passed into a law soon by Governor DeSantis. Reedy Creek is among six special districts that will be affected by the new bill.

It is to be noted that the Florida Governor’s step came as retaliation after Disney denounced the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, last month, following a lot of outcry over the media giant’s previous silence.

Santoor Maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma Dies at 84

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, the renowned classical musician and santoor maestro, died of a massive heart attack on Tuesday at Mumbai. He was 84.

The musician’s secretary Dinesh reportedly told Press Trust of India that he had died between 8 and 8.30 in the morning at his Pali Hill residence in Mumbai.

Although Sharma had been suffering from renal ailments, he took regular treatment and remained active until the end, and was to also perform at Bhopal the following week, as per a family member.

Sharma’s funeral will be performed with state honours, announced Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackrey. “His funeral is to take place at Pawan Hans tomorrow afternoon at around 3 pm, with full state honours, while visitors will be allowed to pay their respects, and will be able to see the maestro for one last time, at his son Rahul’s home in Juhu from 10 am to 1 pm,” he mentioned.

Sharma was in Jammu and Kashmir to singer Uma Dutt Sharma, while his father was a tabla player, who exposed him to music for the first time, at the age of five. He gave his first public performance at Mumbai in 1995. But, it was Sharma’s internationally-recognised style of playing that turned the folk instrument santoor, into an instrument widely used in Indian classical music.

Among his several contributions to the Hindi film industry, he composed the background score for one of the scenes in director V. Shantaram’s films, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1956), and collaborated with flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia for Silsila in 1980, Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), and Darr (1993).

The santoor maestro was the recipient of the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Vibhushan in 2001, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, three Platinum Discs, and one Gold Disc, among several other national and international achievements.

Several tributes and condolences from politicians, celebrities from the film industries, and several others have poured in, following Sharma’s demise.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, “Our cultural world is poorer with the demise of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Ji. He popularised the santoor at a global level. His music will continue to enthral the coming generations. I fondly remember my interactions with him. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.”

The Congress party also expressed their deepest condolences and wrote, “We are deeply saddened by the death of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, a Santoor maestro, who captured the imagination of millions all over the world. The Congress party extends its deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.”

Other politicians such as Aaditya Thackrey, Ashok Gehlot, Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackrey, Rahul Gandhi, Ram Nath Kovind, and several others also paid their tributes to the maestro, via social media.

Amjad Ali Khan, the sarod musician, wrote that Sharma’s demise marks the end of an era. “The passing away of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharmaji marks the end of an era. He was the pioneer of santoor and his contribution is unparalleled. For me, it’s a personal loss and I will miss him no end. May his soul rest in peace. His music lives on forever! Om Shanti.”

While musicians Pankaj Udhas and Shafqat Amanat Ali also extended their condolences on the “loss of a great legend”, other celebrities like actor, producer, and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, veteran actor Shabana Azmi, Bengali actor June Maliah, Bigg Boss 15 contestant Rajiv Adatia, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri also took to social media, to pay their respects.

Pandit is survived by his wife Manorama and sons Rahul, also a santoor player, and Rohit.

Female Actor Assault Case: Kavya Madhavan Quizzed for 4 Hrs; Denies Role in the Incident

Actor Kavya Madhavan, wife of actor Dileep, the alleged chief conspirator in the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case, was interrogated for four hours by the Kerala crime branch on Monday, at her ‘Padmasarovaram’ residence in Aluva.

She reportedly denied playing any role in the incident or having any information about the actor’s abduction and assault.

The interrogation was led by Mohanachandran, Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, and Baiju Paulose, Deputy Superintendent of Police. The officials who are probing the alleged conspiracy to murder case against Dileep, were also present when Kavya was questioned.

The decision to question Kavya at her home was made after she refused to appear at the Aluva Police Club.

Kavya had insisted on being questioned within a familiar environment, at her husband’s house. Her lawyers cited Section 160 of CRPC, according to which, women, children and elderly persons roped in as witnesses should be questioned at their residence.

The investigation team had objected to this since Dileep, an accused in the case, resides at the same house. They also cited logistical issues such as needing separate arrangements for audio-visual clips and statements of witnesses, during the course of the interrogation.

However, the probing team eventually decided to question Kavya at her residence after taking into consideration the limited time left to complete the investigation. It may be noted that the Kerala High Court has ordered the officials to conclude their investigation by May 31. 

Last month, a few audio clips had surfaced that allegedly implicated Kavya in the actor assault case. One of them reportedly relates to Kavya’s role in the incident, while in another clip, a voice that sounds like Dileep’s is heard saying that it was not him who had to undergo punishment, but another woman. 

Actor Manju Warrier, former wife of Dileep, was questioned by the crime branch last month. At the time, she reportedly identified voice samples belonging to Dileep, his brother Anoop, and his brother-in-law Suraj. 

Deepa Mehta Confirms That Cast of ‘Funny Boy’ is Safe Amid Civil Unrest in Sri Lanka

Director Deepa Mehta has confirmed that all cast members of the film Funny Boy are safe in Sri Lanka amid the current civil unrest in the country.

Funny Boy (2020), based on Shyam Selvadurai’s 1994 novel of the same name, is a coming-of-age story revolving around a queer, upper-class Tamil boy named Arjie. The film is set against the background of the Black July riots of 1983 in Sri Lanka that resulted in the death of almost 3000 Tamils. This, in turn, triggered a civil war between the country’s majority community of Sinhalese and the ethnic Tamil minority. The war lasted nearly 26 years and sent thousands of Tamils into exile.

The film was shot on location in Colombo and featured some local actors. It was Canada’s official entry for the Oscars in the International Feature category in 2020, but was disqualified for extensive use of English dialogues.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Mehta wrote, “Things are so dire in Sri Lanka right now. Worried sick about friends and all those who supported the ousting of fascist Rajapaksa. Now, dreading as they witness Lanka going up in flames. Thankfully Brandon [Ingram], Nimmi [Harasgama]’s family is safe as is all of the Funny Boy family – they are all in the forefront of protest.”

Mehta’s tweet alludes to the ongoing protests in Sri Lanka trigged by the economic slump that led to the citizens seeking the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

While Sri Lanka’s foreign debts had been piling up since 2010, the situation intensified after a rise in inflation and shortages in commodities such as petrol, diesel, cooking gas, kerosene, and milk powder in 2021, owing to the government’s lack of buying power.

Moreover, examinations for millions of Sri Lankan students were cancelled due to a shortage in the supply of paper, and the authorities also imposed daily power cuts for 13 hours a day, to cut down on fuel usage. In April, the Sri Lankan government went on to restrict social media platforms in an effort to curb the spread of information related to the protests.

Civilians then took to the streets to rally against the government’s inefficiency, which eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Monday.

The protesters included Sri Lankan cricketers as well as artists like Jehan Appuhami and Nanda Malini. Recently, in April, Sri Lankan rapper Shiraz Shiraz, who performed at a protest in the capital city of Colombo, collapsed soon after his performance. He suffered from a heart attack and died while en route to a hospital.

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan Released on Bail in Stalking Case; Here’s All You Need to Know about the Filmmaker & the Issue

Malayalam Filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan was released on bail on Friday after being arrested on Thursday in a stalking case filed based on actor Manju Warrier’s complaint. 

Sasidharan had recently been claiming on social media that Warrier’s life was in danger and that the actor was being held in the custody of those with vested interests.

Warrier, however, has alleged that the filmmaker had been making unsolicited advances towards her, personally and through social media, since August 2019.

Following his dramatic arrest on Thursday, which was captured in a Facebook Live session of the filmmaker, the police offered to grant him station bail, but Sasidharan denied it and demanded to be produced at the court. Bail was subsequently granted to Saisdharan by the Aluva magistrate. 

It may be noted that in the recent past, the Malayalam film industry has witnessed multiple cases of crime against women. Several male technicians and artists are facing criminal charges, such as actor Dileep, who is facing trial as the chief conspirator in the infamous 2017 female actor abduction and assault case, debutant filmmaker Liju Krishna, who was arrested on rape charges, and actor-producer Vijay Babu, who is also facing a rape charge. The latest in this list is the stalking case against Sasidharan. 

Who is Sanal Kumar Sasidharan?

Born in Thiruvananthapuram, Sasidharan is a 45-year-old filmmaker, lawyer and poet. He was a recipient of the prestigious Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam for his film Sexy Durga

Sasidharan began his film career in 2000 as an art assistant for the Malayalam film Mankolangal. In 2001, he formed a film society, Kazhcha Chalachithra Vedi, with his colleagues in order to make independent movies through crowdfunding. His first short film Wonder World was produced by the film society.

Later, in 2008, he directed Parole. That same year, his third short film Frog won the Kerala State Television Award. His first feature film Oraalppokkam got Fipresci and Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema awards for best Malayalam film at the International Film Festival of Kerala 2014. He has also received the Kerala State Film Award for Best Director for the film. His second feature Ozhivudivasathe Kali bagged the top honour at the Kerala Film awards in 2015.

In 2017,  his film Sexy Durga, later renamed as S Durga in the aftermath of a controversy over the title and a ban by the Central Board of Film Certification in India, received the Hivos Tiger Award. It was the first Indian film to win this award. 

Later, Sasidharan directed Chola, featuring Joju George and Nimisha Sajayan. The film premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti Competition section.

In 2019, he directed Warrier in a film titled A’hr/Kayattam, which has not been released yet. Warrier also co-produced the film. It is notable that in her recent complaint, the actor has stated that Sasidharan has allegedly been stalking her since 2019.

Sasidharan’s social media posts about Warrier

In a December 2021 Facebook post praising Warrier, the filmmaker said that he had no opportunity to talk in private to her about his ‘admiration’ and added that he wanted to ask Warrier about her feelings the next time he got two minutes in person. He also posted a couple of photos of Warrier taken during the shoot of Kayattam

On April 27, 2022, he wrote a long post about working on Kayattam with Warrier, the issues surrounding the film’s release, and the alleged interference of her managers Binish Chandran and Binu Nair. 

On May 1, the filmmaker took to Instagram and wrote, “It has been four days since I posted on social media that the life of famous Malayalam actress Manju Warrier is in danger and she is in the custody of some people with vested interests. I posted the names of her managers Bineesh Chandran and Binu Nair and the reasons why I believe she is under detention. But so far, neither Manju Warrier nor anyone else concerned has responded. Manju Warrier’s silence reinforces my suspicion.”

In another post, Sasidharan shared a letter addressed to the President of India and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In the letter, he expressed his apprehensions surrounding the law and order situation in Kerala in the wake of incidents such as the murder of a woman named Shalu and the alleged suicide of a trans woman. He also mentioned his concerns about Warrier’s safety and wrote about the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case. Sasidharan further said he suspected that Warrier was kept under confinement when the investigating officer in the actor assault case was transferred right after recording her statement.

Sasidharan’s arrest and what followed

On Thursday, a source from the Elamakkara station confirmed to Silverscreen India that an FIR had been registered against the filmmaker and that the sections he is charged under would be determined after a preliminary investigation. 

Earlier on Thursday morning, the filmmaker went live on Facebook, while the police were trying to take him into custody at Parassala, Thiruvananthapuram. In the video, the filmmaker appears to not be cooperating with the authorities.

The filmmaker was taken to Elamakkara station around 9.30 pm on Thursday and his arrest was recorded subsequently. Elamakkara police have charged the filmmaker under IPC section 354 (D). This section denotes the offence of stalking, defined as any man who follows a woman and contacts or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman.

When he was produced at the court, Sasidharan alleged that the police did not return his mobile phone. However, a police source told The Hindu that taking an accused’s phone into custody is a routine procedure. The source also added that the phone was submitted to the court and the accused could collect it through his lawyer.

Speaking to the media after being released on bail, Sasidharan denied that he had continuously disturbed Warrier. He also said he had messaged her about his suspicion that she was being held against her will and that he had intimated that he would post about it on social media. “I did not get any response from her. It was only then that I wrote to the President and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I tried to meet Manju Warrier in person to talk about the delay in releasing Kayattam, but I was not permitted to do so,” he added. 

Mike Hagerty, Who Played Mr Treeger in ‘Friends’, Dies at 67

Actor Mike Hagerty, who played the role of Mr Treeger, the building superintendent, in the sitcom Friends, died on April 29. He was 67.

Hagerty’s death was only announced on Thursday by actor Bridget Everett, who played the role of his daughter in the sitcom Senfield. The reason behind his death is undisclosed.

Everett wrote on social media, “With great sadness, the family of Michael G Hagerty announced his death yesterday in Los Angeles. A beloved character actor, his love of his hometown of Chicago and his family were the cornerstones of his life. Mike, a devoted husband, is survived by his wife Mary Kathryn, his sister Mary Ann Hagerty, her wife Kathleen O’Rourke, and their daughter Meg. He will be sorely missed.”

Hagerty was born on May 10, 1954, in Chicago, and began his acting career in the 1980s with films like Doctor Detroit, Brewster’s Millions, Nothing in Common, One More Saturday Night, Overboard, and Red Heat.

His television debut came in 1986 with the show Cheers.

Hagerty’s small yet significant performances in the 80s propelled his career in the mid-90s, when he featured in popular shows like Senfield, Friends, The Wayans Bros, and The Drew Carey Show.

He landed his first series-regular role with the CBS sitcom The Building. The show, however, only ran for a few episodes.

In Friends, Hagerty was introduced in the 1995 episode The One Where Heckles Dies.

More recently, the actor joined the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Captain McGinley in 2013. He was last seen in the 2022 show Somebody Somewhere.

Hagerty’s co-stars and fans paid tribute to him on social media.

“Mike Hagerty brought so much joy, humour, and warmth to all his performances, including his most recent role as Ed Miller in Somebody Somewhere. We’re deeply saddened at the news of his passing and send our sympathies to his loved ones,” wrote HBO Max on Twitter.

“RIP to the hilarious Mike Hagerty. I was blessed to do 13 episodes of Lucky Louie with him. A truly great comic actor,” wrote Jim Norton, Hagerty’s co-star on the show.

“RIP Mike Hagerty. He was always good in whatever he played, but he truly left an impression as ‘DP’ in the Dead Men Don’t Flush episode of Martin. Just as funny now as it was back when it aired,” a fan wrote on Twitter.

NCPCR Seeks Action Against Kunal Kamra for Sharing Video of a Minor Boy Singing to PM Narendra Modi

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought action against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra regarding his Twitter post of a “doctored” video that features a minor boy, singing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a letter obtained by Silverscreen India, the Commission has asked Twitter to take down the video immediately, and submit a report of subsequent actions taken against the comedian within seven days. The letter has been sent to the Delhi Police, as well.

It was reported that the NCPCR had received a complaint about the video on Thursday, alleging that Kamra posted the video “to further his own political agendas.”

“The Commission has taken cognisance of the complaint, and is of the view that using minors for propagating political ideologies is a violation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Further, the Commission is apprehensive that using children for such promotional purposes is harmful and detrimental to their mental well-being.”

The now deleted video shared by the comedian, was related to a video of Modi in Germany, from his recent three-day visit to Europe, which featured a boy singing Hey Janmabhoomi Bharat to him. Kamra reportedly re-shared the video, while replacing the song with Mehengayi daayan khaaye jaat hain. 

The boy’s father, Ganesh Pol, responded to Kamra’s post and wrote, “He is my 7 year old son, who wanted to sing this song for his beloved motherland. Though he is still very young but certainly he loves his country more than you Mr. Kamra or Kachra, whatever you are. Keep the poor boy out of your filthy politics and try to work on your poor jokes.

To which Kamra replied, “The video is in the public domain by a news organisation. The joke is not on your son, while you enjoy your son sing for his motherland to the most popular son, there are songs that he should listen to from people of his country also.”

Later, the comedian also shared a meme and wrote, “The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights must act for on me for a MEME, that I said who did this for.”

“Now they’ll download the video and circulate it as “THE HEIGHTS THE LEFT GOES TO FOR HATING PMO” & forget all about the KID,” he wrote.

Isaiah Lee, Assailant of Comedian Dave Chappelle At ‘Netflix Is a Joke’ Fest, Faces Misdemeanour Charges

Isaiah Lee, the man identified as the assailant at comedian Dave Chappelle‘s show during the ‘Netflix Is a Joke’ festival on Tuesday, is facing charges of misdemeanour filed by The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

“This alleged attack has got to have consequences,” Mike Feuer, the city’s District Attorney, said in a video statement on Twitter. He added, “This afternoon, my office has filed charges alleging battery, possession of weapon with the intent to assault, and charges relating to interfering with a performance.”

Feuer also emphasised that his office will “vigorously prosecute this case.”

Greg Risling, District Attorney spokesperson, explained in a separate statement that Lee, who is in police custody, will not face any charges of felony. “After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct.”

According to clips circulating online, Lee jumped on the stage and tackled Chappelle, when the latter was giving his final commentary.

“He tackled Dave and they both went to the floor and began wrestling, when everyone ran onstage to help, including Dave’s security,” said an attendee.

Lee was grabbed by several people and was taken backstage. The police also retrieved a weapon, which was a replica handgun that also included a knife blade, from him.

Chappelle returned shortly after, unhurt. He joked about the incident and said that it was trans man.

The event saw other prominent figures like comedian Chris Rock, who joked whether or not the assailant was Will Smith, alluding to his recent experience at the Oscars.

Actor Jamie Foxx, who had also attended the event, climbed on stage and said, “I thought that was part of the show.”

Unverified clips of policemen allegedly escorting Lee on a stretcher to an ambulance, were also circulated.

Both Chappelle and Netflix shared their statements with the media, on Wednesday.

“The performances by Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl were epic and record-breaking and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment,” Carla Sims, the comedian’s rep, stated. It is to be noted that in October 2021, Chappelle had come under fire for his transphobic remarks in his Netflix special, The Closer.

“We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence,” stated Netflix.

Manju Warrier Files Complaint Against Sanal Kumar Sasidharan; Filmmaker Reportedly Arrested

Malayalam actor Manju Warrier has filed a police complaint against filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who has recently been alleging that the former’s life is under threat. The police reportedly arrested him on Thursday.

In her complaint, Warrier stated that Sasidharan was defaming her on social media as well as blackmailing her. The complaint was filed at the Elamakkara police station in Ernakulam.

A source from the station confirmed to Silverscreen India that an FIR has been registered against the filmmaker, and that the sections he is charged under will be determined after a preliminary investigation. 

On Thursday morning, the filmmaker went live on Facebook, while the police were trying to take him into custody at Parassala, Thiruvananthapuram. In the video, the filmmaker appears to not be cooperating with the authorities.

Over the last few days, Sasidharan has been claiming on social media that Warrier’s life is in danger and that the actor is being held in the custody of those with vested interests.

In one of his Instagram posts, the filmmaker wrote, “It has been four days since I posted on social media that the life of famous Malayalam actress Manju Warrier is in danger and she is in the custody of some people with vested interests. I posted the names of her managers Bineesh Chandran and Binu Nair and the reasons why I believe she is under detention. But so far, neither Manju Warrier nor anyone else concerned has responded. Manju Warrier’s silence reinforces my suspicion.”

In another post, Sasidharan shared a letter addressed to the President of India and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In the letter, he expressed his apprehensions surrounding the law and order situation in Kerala in the wake of incidents such as the murder of a woman named Shalu and the alleged suicide of a trans woman. He also mentioned his concerns about Warrier’s safety and wrote about the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case. Sasidharan further said he suspected that Warrier was kept under confinement when the investigating officer in the actor assault case was transferred right after recording her statement.

It may be noted that Warrier starred in Sasidharan’s 2020 Malayalam film Kayattam. The filmmaker also claimed he has faced issues ever since the completion of the film and hinted at conspiracies surrounding it.

WCC Calls Hema Committee Recommendations Disappointing & Lacking in Clarity

Members of the Women in Cinema Collective have expressed their disapproval of the Hema committee report, calling its recommendations disappointing and lacking in clarity.

Two years and four months after the report was submitted, the Kerala government held the first meeting with stakeholders, on Wednesday, to discuss the committee’s recommendations. The meeting was chaired by Saji Cherian, Kerala’s Minister for Culture.

Post the meeting, addressing the media, actor Padmapriya, a member of WCC, said, “It is disappointing to see these recommendations. They are loosely defined. Anyone who reads this can understand that there will be many questions. I don’t know if the State has taken enough time and consideration to put this together. Who is doing this and how are they doing this?”

She further noted that just as the government had published the Adoor committee report, they have to systematically publish the Hema committee report as well. 

Filmmaker Asha Joseph said, “There is an issue of clarity here. Having invested so much time and money to produce this report, how can we understand the recommendations without knowledge of the findings?”

Film editor Bina Paul added that while there are recommendations for toilets and equal pay, there is no clarity on the same. “What is the basis for this? To whom should equal pay be given? How can we implement it without knowing for which sector? How can we give feedback?”

WCC members said that they had discussed with other stakeholders about how the report can be made public and all were in agreement. “The minister is saying there are confidential parts in the report. But there are ways of maintaining the confidentiality and still making the report public,” they added.

On July 1, 2017, the Kerala government established the Justice Hema Committee to study the issues of gender disparity, sexual harassment, and other issues faced by women in the Malayalam film industry and propose recommendations. The commission headed by retired judge Hema was formed in the aftermath of the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case. Many women testified before the commission, and a report was submitted to the government on December 31, 2019. Since then, the members of WCC have been constantly pushing for the report to be published.

Meanwhile, Siddique, Treasurer of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists), said that the organisation welcomed 90% of the suggestions and their reason for not accepting the remaining 10% was due to the practical difficulties in implementing them. 

“It was a good discussion and we felt that the Hema committee findings were good. AMMA doesn’t have any objection to the report being published,” he added. 

Minister Saji Cherian, however, reiterated that Justice Hema herself has asked that the report not be published. He further stated that there is a need for a law to ensure protection for women working in the industry. “The government has acknowledged the contents of the report, and a law will be formulated soon,” he added. 

A panel is to be formed, comprising P Satheedevi (Chairperson of Kerala Women’s Commission), Ranjith (Chairperson of Kerala Chalachitra Academy), Shaji N Karun (Chairperson of Kerala State Film Development Corporation), Madhupal (Chairperson of Kerala Cultural Activists Welfare Board), and V Hari Nair (Law Secretary), to further discuss the matter with the concerned organisations. 

Amber Heard Testifies That Johnny Depp Abused Her Verbally & Sexually

Amber Heard, who is the defendant in the defamation case filed by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, said the latter abused her verbally and sexually. Her statement came as part of her testimony on Wednesday, in the ongoing trial.

Recounting an incident from 2013, Heard said that Depp did a “cavity search” on her against her will after accusing her of hiding his cocaine. Heard testified that Depp had ripped off her dress and underwear, and penetrated her with his fingers.

Heard’s testimony came on day 14 of the trial in the defamation case filed by Depp over a 2018 op-ed piece that Heard wrote in The Washington Post about her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor.

The ongoing legal battle between Depp and Heard began when the latter filed for divorce in 2016 accusing Depp of domestic abuse. While the duo had reached a settlement on their divorce in 2017, Heard subsequently wrote the op-ed piece, which Depp claims defamed him and resulted in him losing several projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean.

Dr Dawn Hughes, a forensic psychologist who testified ahead of Heard, confirmed that the latter had been sexually assaulted by Depp, and added that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being subjected to abuse at the hands of Depp.

Depp’s team continued to deny the allegations, and the actor claimed last week that he was a victim of domestic abuse.

Heard’s testimony on Wednesday came after Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed the strike motion from Heard’s team, on Tuesday, and allowed the trial to continue.

Heard recounted how she and Depp had met, in 2011, while filming Rum Diary. They started dating while on the press tour for the film.

She added that even though Depp had a tendency of disappearing on her and resurfacing days later, it wasn’t until he first hit her, that she realised that she needed to leave.

“I will never forget it. It changed my life,” Heard said as she recounted the incident from 2012.

Heard said that they were having a conversation at Depp’s place, when she asked him about a tattoo on his arm, that read, “Wino,” and laughed over it.

“I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face,” she said, and added, “And I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”

Heard also mentioned that Depp was drinking and she believed that he was also high on cocaine, at the time of the incident.

“I, as a woman, had never been hit like that,” she said.

When she was about to leave, she found Depp crying and apologising, Heard added. He held her hand, and said, “I thought I put the monster away.”

Although Heard left at the time, the two reconciled shortly thereafter. “I believed there was a line he’d never cross again and that was it,” she said.

But things got worse, according to Heard, when Depp went back to drinking and accused her of having affairs with her friends and acquaintances. She also said Depp passed comments on her dressing and called her vile names.

Earlier during the trial, text exchanges between Depp and his friend, actor Paul Bettany, were shared, showing that Depp used vulgar language in regards to Heard.

Heard will continue with her testimony on Thursday, at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

Vijay Babu Rape Case: Kerala Police to Issue Blue Corner Notice for Absconding Producer

The Kochi city police have decided to issue a Blue Corner notice against Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu, who is absconding after being charged in a rape case

Blue Corner notice is an enquiry notice issued to track, identify or obtain information about an accused who is absconding. The notice is issued to the country where the criminal is currently suspected to be hiding. 

The police had earlier confirmed that Babu had fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. They had further said that they were expecting him to surrender before the law. Since this has not happened thus far, a decision has been made to issue a Blue Corner notice.

Commissioner CH Nagaraju said that they have begun the process of issuing the notice, which involves state and national nodal officers.

Babu had reportedly e-mailed the police seeking time till May 19 to appear for interrogation, informing them that he was abroad for business purposes. When the police had responded to the e-mail and directed him to share his location, Babu did not reply. 

Sources told Times of India that once the Blue Corner notice is issued, it will help Kochi police in tracking down the accused with the help of the UAE police. Subsequently, either a team would be sent to bring him back or he could be deported.

It was earlier reported that Kerala Police had contacted Interpol to extradite him and official procedures for the same were launched through the Crime Branch, which is the nodal agency of Interpol in the state.

Babu was booked for rape, in April, based on a complaint filed by a female actor from Kozhikode.

After news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the producer went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. He flouted the law and openly named the survivor. Thus, another case was also registered against Babu for revealing the identity of a rape victim. The investigation in this case against Babu for revealing the survivor’s identity is said to be in the last stage.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Babu had moved the Kerala High Court seeking pre-arrest bail in the rape case. His anticipatory bail plea will be heard on May 18, when the court resumes its session after the summer break.

Dhanush Paternity Row: As Madras HC Summons Actor, Here’s a Look Back at the Case History

Actor Dhanush, who was last seen in the Tamil film Maaran, has been summoned by the Madras High Court, in relation to a long-pending case concerning his paternity.

As is widely believed and asserted by the actor himself, Dhanush is the son of Tamil filmmaker Kasthuri Raja and his wife Vijayalakshmi. He was born as Venkatesh Prabhu to the couple on July 28, 1983. Dhanush made his acting debut in 2002 with Thulluvadho Ilamai helmed by Kasthuri Raja. The actor’s older brother is filmmaker Selvaraghavan, who has collaborated with him on numerous projects like Kaadhal Kondein (2003) and Pudhupettai (2006).

However, in 2016, Dhanush’s paternity was called into question when an elderly couple named R Kathiresan and K Meenakshi from Melur, Tamil Nadu, claimed that Dhanush was their estranged biological son, who ran away to Chennai in order to become an actor.

Silverscreen India brings to you a timeline of this case over the years.

November 2016: R Kathiresan and K Meenakshi from Melur file a petition with the Madurai bench of the Madras High court, alleging that Dhanush is their third son, born as Saravana Prabhu. In their petition, the couple claim that he ran away from home when he was a teenager, and began to work for filmmaker Kasthuri Raja in Chennai. When they attempted to see Dhanush in the city, they were prevented from doing so by Raja, they further allege. The couple also demand a monthly maintenance sum of Rs 65000 from Dhanush.

January 2017: Dhanush approaches the Madras HC to quash the case filed by the couple. In his petition, Dhanush denies he is their son and insists that he was born as Venkatesh Prabhu to Kasthuri Raja and Vijayalakshmi at the Children’s Hospital in Egmore, Chennai, on July 28, 1983, and later changed his name after entering the film industry. Dhanush terms the couple’s petition a case of blackmail.

February 2017: The couple stick to their claim that Dhanush is their biological son and claim that the actor produced a fake birth certificate in court. Dhanush, meanwhile, argues that the magistrate should not have summoned him without any prima facie evidence and on the basis of a mere complaint filed by the couple. He asks the court to dispense with his appearance and dismiss the case. In a counter-affidavit, the couple claim to have sufficient evidence to prove that Dhanush is their son, if a trial is conducted.

March 2017: The couple file a fresh petition asking for a DNA test to be conducted. In view of this, the Madurai bench of Madras HC stays all further proceedings. Meanwhile, Kasthuri Raja denies the allegations made by the couple and affirms that Dhanush is indeed his son. Terming the couple’s claims “baseless,” Kasthuri Raja notes that he has been in the public eye since 1991 and everyone knows that Dhanush is his son. The case is adjourned to April.

April 2017: Despite his refusal to undergo a DNA test citing privacy reasons, Dhanush wins the paternity case. Reports suggest that he won the case as there were no birthmarks on the actor’s body as claimed by the couple. Kasthuri Raja says that though the paternity claim did not bother him as he knew it was ‘baseless’, Dhanush being dragged to court concerned him.

October 2017: Dhanush is accused of presenting fake documents in court by the couple. They file a complaint against the actor with the Ko Pudur Police Station in Madurai. Kathiresan alleges that the actor had produced fake birth certificate and education certificates during the hearing of the paternity case. He also vows to continue the legal battle until a resolution is found. The couple appeal to the Chennai Commissioner of Police to intervene on their behalf and instruct the Ko Pudur police station to register the case.

January 2019: Madurai bench of the HC orders that a notice be sent to Dhanush, and the Madurai police seeks explanation from the actor about the false document charges made by the couple.

March 2019: The couple file a petition with the Supreme Court, appealing for the paternity case to be transferred from the Madurai bench of the Madras HC to either Kerala or Karnataka.

December 2020: Madurai Judicial Magistrate VI Court states that no evidence was found to support the claim that the documents presented by Dhanush were forged. Noting that no prima facie case was made, the court dismisses Kathiresan’s petition.

May 2022: The elderly couple moves the Madras High Court, again alleging that the actor had forged the documents he submitted to court. They also ask for the 2020 order to be quashed. The court summons Dhanush.