Top Bollywood Producers Take Republic TV, Times Now To Court Over ‘Smear Campaign’
(Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Top Bollywood Producers Take Republic TV, Times Now To Court Over ‘Smear Campaign’

Four Hindi film industry associations and 34 top producers have approached the Delhi High Court against English news channels Republic TV and Times Now, and their key anchors Arnab Goswami and Navika Kumar, to restrain them from conducting a smear campaign against the film industry while reporting on the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The suit, which also names certain social media platforms, seeks to restrain the two channels “from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood as a whole and members of Bollywood, and restraining them from conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood”.

Law firm DSK Legal told BloombergQuint it has filed the suit on behalf of the Bollywood associations. The date of hearing isn’t known yet.

The plaintiffs in these suits represent:

  • The Film & Television Producers Guild Of India.
  • The Cine & TV Artistes’ Association.
  • Indian Film and TV Producers Council.
  • Screenwriters Association.
  • Aamir Khan Productions.
  • Ad-Labs Films.
  • Ajay Devgn Ffilms.
  • Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network.
  • Dharma Productions.
  • Excel Entertainment.
  • Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment.
  • Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures.
  • Red Chillies Entertainment.
  • Rohit Shetty Picturez.
  • Roy Kapur Films.
  • Salman Khan Films.
  • Vinod Chopra Films.
  • Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures.
  • Yashraj Films.

Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in June, allegedly by suicide, first became a public discussion on mental health. Suspicion regarding the circumstances he died in and allegations of inadequate investigation by the Mumbai police prompted the case to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Other national agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate and Narcotics Control Bureau have also been involved in examining different angles to the case. High decibel coverage of the investigations and ever-widening conspiracy theories have been the mainstay on several TV news channels and across social media.

The suit alleged highly derogatory words and expressions have been used against Bollywood (the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai) and livelihoods of people associated with it are being severely impacted by the smear campaign.

The news channels have been accused of using terms such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.

It also claimed the privacy of members of the Bollywood industry is being invaded and their reputation is being irreparably damaged.

The shrill coverage by certain media outlets following Rajput’s death in June this year alarmed media regulatory bodies, with the Press Council of India saying it violated “journalistic norms”, according to a LiveLaw report. A public interest litigation was filed in the Bombay High Court in August that sought to halt the trial by media and sensational reporting in the case.

The plaintiffs, have sought that news channels abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and withdraw or take down all the defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.

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