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Naik & Verus new Hyd partner get all clear for Dirty Picture in writ by Silk Smitha bro

Dirty but not a 'formal biopic', defend producers
Dirty but not a 'formal biopic', defend producers
Exclusive: The Andhra Pradesh writ petition filed by the brother of late South Indian actress Silk Smitha against the movie loosely inspired by her life, The Dirty Picture, has been dismissed in favour of the movie’s producer Balaji Motion Pictures, represented by Naik Naik & Co, and the Censor Board, represented by Verus Advocates recently joined Hyderabad partner.

The petitioner Vadlapatla Naga Vara Prasad had filed the writ in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, claiming that the movie’s depiction of his sister, who passed away in 1996, violated Article 21 – protection of life and personal liberty. He was seeking for the court to direct the film censors not to issue film certification for Dirty Picture.

The Central Board of Film Classification (CBFC) had cleared the film for public exhibition while the case was pending.

Naik managing partner Ameet Naik and Niranjan Reddy respresented Balaji and its owners Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor, as well as the movie’s director.

Verus, which was started in February 2011 by former Bharucha & Partners senior associate Krishnayan Sen in three locations, appeared for the Central Board of Film Classification, which was another respondent in the case, led by its second partner and Hyderabad head Mayur Reddy. He had joined in October 2011, having graduated from Nalsar Hyderabad in 2005.

Naik submitted to the court that the petitioner’s assumptions were driven by press reports which were “nothing but hearsay information more so as the producers of the Film had released a press statement clarifying that the film is not a biopic of Silk Smitha”.

The press release denying that the film was “not a formal biopic of biography” was covered by the PTI and other news sources in early November.

Nevertheless, a Google search for the movie’s star “Vidya Balan” and “Silk Smitha” turned up more than 1.3m results, although there are now also 400,000 results for both actors’ names with the name of the petitioner.

According to Verus, Mayur Reddy also argued that the Board granted a certificate under section 5A of the Cinematograph Act 1952 and followed the guidelines in Section 5B, read with the notification issued therein by the Central Government. “Reliance was placed on earlier ruling of the Supreme Court which has held that there can be no prior restraint on publication and that the right to privacy will not apply to a public figure when the information about him / her is based on public records. The only exception to the said principle is when the private life of such an individual is showcased,” said Verus in a statement.

“It was argued that the instant case the movie was not based upon the life of any individual’s past or present but was a fictional account of how a fictional character namely Reshma came to the Mumbai film industry, succeeded initially and eventually failed. The Board therefore found that the said movie was a representation of how people struggle in the film industry and was therefore not representative of any single individual.

“It was further argued that if the petitioner indeed believes that his sister has been defamed then the proper remedy is by way of a suit for defamation, where evidence would be required to be led, and therefore cannot be entertained by the writ court. It was further argued that grant of certificate by the Censor Board was a policy decision and since the said decision was in accordance with the provisions of the Act and related notifications of the Central Government, the said certificate cannot be interfered by the court.”

The court dismissed the petition yesterday and the film The Dirty Picture is due to be released today (2 December).

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