The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to stay the release of the Hindi film Nyay: The Justice, based on late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s life, that was scheduled to release on Friday.
The court dismissed the plea filed by Krishna Kishore Singh, the late actor’s father, who had moved the Delhi High Court in April seeking to restrain filmmakers from using or advertising or making references, in any manner, to his son’s name, caricature, lifestyle, or likeness in their upcoming ventures.
The petition was filed based upon reports about films titled Nyay: The Justice, Suicide, Murder: A Star Was Lost, and Shashank. In February, Mumbai-based businessman and social worker Manish Jamadar Mishra filed a petition seeking to restrain the release, exhibition, display and broadcast of Nyay: The Justice.
After the court’s order, the makers of Nyay: The Justice released the film’s trailer on Friday.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Rahul Sharma co-producer of Nyay: The Justice said that he decided to make the film along with co-producer Sarla A Saraogi in August 2020, based on the news that was “doing the rounds” in media in the aftermath of Rajput’s death. He eventually approached the director and actors.
Claiming that they were not making a biopic on Rajput, Sharma said that the film was “inspired from the life of certain actors who had lost their lives due to certain conditions” and Rajput was one of them. “The country was seeing the whole case through the media and social media and people were following the case, so everybody was aware of this thing,” Sharma said.
In response to Mishra’s plea, who claimed to be a fan of Rajput and sought a ban on the film’s release claiming it was based on the late actor’s life, Sharma said such statements cannot be made without watching the film. The court asserted the same.
Sharma added that the issue was not about making a film on Rajput’s life, rather the “main thing is to have a wider perspective of what the industry is about and what happens within or what is going on with the investigating agency or media or how many newcomers are coming inside the industry and then being removed from movies”.
Calling Rajput’s father’s plea absurd and invalid, Sharma said that talking about someone was not a breach of freedom of speech and according to certain rights, they are allowed to make films on subjects that are in the public domain.
“Making a film like this is similar to putting out a tweet or making a YouTube video or posting on Instagram that cannot be stopped or controlled. If he says you cannot put my son’s name on anything, then his name will vanish. Nobody will remember him,” said Sharma.
“As per law and choice, it is not necessary to speak to anyone related to a person who is widely known in the public to make a film on him. We ourselves are a fan of him,” he added.
Rajput’s father alleged breach of right to privacy and “passing off” in context to recent news articles regarding films and other ventures depicting the actor’s personal life was a direct infringement of his “personality rights”.
The petition also argued that any such publication, production, or depiction of the actor’s private life was a blatant and wilful breach of the fundamental right to privacy which includes right to publicity. The plea stated that the same cannot be commenced without his prior approval as he was Rajput’s legal heir.
Claiming that close confidants of the accused in Rajput’s abetment of suicide had launched the film in an “orchestrated manner”, Rajput’s father argued that the film would interfere in the ongoing investigation.
On Thursday, the court observed that restraining publication or depiction of work inspired by events that are in the public sphere was not justified.
The film’s release was delayed due to the ongoing legal battle.
Sharma told Silverscreen that besides a theatrical release, Nyay: The Justice will also be released on an OTT platform as 10-episode series, each of 45 minutes.
Produced by Sarla A Saraogi and Rahul Sharma and written and directed by Dilip Gulati, Nyay: The Justice features Zuber Khan and Shreya Shukla in the lead roles. The film also features Aman Verma, Asrani, Shakti Kapoor, Kiran Kumar, Anant Jog, Anwar Fatehan, Somi Khan, Aroon Bakshi, Kamaal Malik and Sudha Chandran.
Rajput died by suicide on June 14, 2020 in his residence in Mumbai, sparking several controversies, and a trial by media speculating the cause of his death, mental health issues and nepotism in the Hindi film industry. Rajput’s death initiated a massive ongoing drug probe, which is being investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation. There are cases against Rajput’s sister Priyanka Singh, his girlfriend actor Rhea Chakraborty, and her brother Showik Chakraborty pertaining to the actor’s suicide.