The Delhi High Court Wednesday allowed the release of the song Mehngai from upcoming Bollywood movie Chakravyuh, saying that in the contextual setting of the movie the “song is not defamatory”. The court suspended a single judge bench’s order restraining the release of the song of the yet-to-be released film on a defamation suit filed by shoemaker Bata. The petitioner objected to the use of its name in the lyrics related to inflation.
Filmmaker Prakash Jha, who has directed the film, challenged the single-judge order before a division bench of the court. The film is scheduled for release October 24. The division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Manmohan Singh said: “We are inclined to stay the operation of the impugned order.”
“The movie raised the burning social issues like disparity in wealth, fight of value and thought…to bring out public debate. I do not find that in the contextual setting or background of the movie, the song or its stanza is defamatory and prima facie derogatory to Bata,” a judge said, posting the matter to November 7 for hearing.
Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Jha, said that the song was on YouTube since September 7 after the film got a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification aka censor board. Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Bata, said the song was not written on the basis of research. “The movie is dealing with a theme of social evils and in that background comes this song which would damage the company’s (Bata) name,” he said. “You are portraying me as an evil in the song,” said Kaul, adding that “the song shows that I am an evil sucking the blood of the nation”.
Bata, while filing the suit, said the use of its name in a song on inflation was “offending”. Justice Kailash Gambhir October 15, in an interim order, allowed Bata’s plea that a satirical mention of the company’s name in the song Mehngai was defamatory, and directed that the song should not be released till the plea was decided.