Kochhar & Co has sent a legal notice to the makers of Bollywood sequel The State vs Jolly LLB 2 on behalf of footwear empire Bata, asking them to remove and apologise for an allegedly disparaging trailer of the movie in which the reputation of Bata as a brand is allegedly damaged.
A scene between the film’s protagonists Annu Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, has Kapoor saying the following before he gets slapped by Kumar:
Varna Kya….BATA ka joota pehan kar, tuchhi si terricot ki shirt pehan kar, saala humse zabaan lada rahe hain
That is accompanied by the following, non-branded English subtitle:
Who are you to argue with me in your cheap shoes and shabby clothes.
The Jolly LLB franchise about a happy-go-lucky underdog lawyer ironically has a great track record in attracting legal notices. The first movie in 2013 was served with three legal notices for allegedly ridiculing Meerut law college, where the fictional protagonist Jolly had earned his LLB spurs.
Bata, through Kochhar partner Neeraj Grover, asserted in its petition that this scene, which is part of the trailer being watched widely over the internet and in cinemas, showed the brand BATA in “extremely bad taste”.
The petition added that:
the dialogue is intended to convey that the brand BATA is adorned only by lower strata of society and one should feel humiliated if one wears BATA footwear, in fact the expression and reaction to such a dialogue by Akshay Kumar in the trailer shows that even the person to whom such a statement is hurled took the same extremely negatively and slapped Annu Kapoor in Open Court as if he has been severely abused in the dialogue or he has been hurled with some derogatory remarks.
Bata has called this a deliberate effort to tarnish the brand image of Bata, “perhaps at the instance of some competitors of [Bata] whose products are promoted by Mr Akshay Kumar as a brand ambassador”.
In the notice sent to Fox Star Studios India, executive producer Naren Kumar, directors Deepak Jacob, Amit Shah and Subhash Kapoor, and actors Kapoor and Kumar, Bata has pointed out that established in 1931, it is the largest retail network of footwear across India with 1200 stores, owns many popular footwear brands such as Marie Claire, Hush Puppies, Scholls and North Star among others, and enjoys an “impeccable reputation amongst all classes of the Indian public which include a common middle class men, those from the higher strata and even the elitist of the elite lot of the Indian society”.
Bata has asked for a personal apology as well as an apology published in mainstream national newspapers, pulling down of the allegedly derogatory trailer and to publish a prominent apology on all versions of its trailer, for damaging the reputation of Bata.
Kochhar has sent a copy of the notice to PVR, Satyam Cineplexes and Youtube.