Director of movie ‘Shashank’ has denied in the Delhi High Court that the film is based on the life of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput saying the story portrays struggle of outsiders in the industry. The filmmaker claimed that there is so much of difference in the name of movie ‘Shashank’ and Sushant Singh Rajput and the film’s story is based on four persons who struggle and fight against nepotism in the film industry in Mumbai so there is no comparison between the two.
Director Sanoj Mishra made the submissions in an affidavit filed in response to a suit filed by Rajput’s father Krishna Kishore Singh who has sought to restrain anyone from using his son’s name or likeness in movies.
Some of the upcoming or proposed movie projects, based on Rajput's life, mentioned in the plea, are - 'Nyay: The Justice', 'Suicide or Murder: A star was lost', 'Shashank' and an unnamed crowd-funded film.
According to the suit, 'Nyay' is scheduled to be released in June, while shooting has commenced with regard to 'Suicide or Murder: A star was lost' and 'Shashank'.
The high court on April 20 has asked the producers of these proposed and upcoming films to respond to the plea and has listed the matter for hearing on May 24.
The director, in his response filed through advocate A P Singh, also raised the issue of territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court to entertain the suit.
He said Singh is a resident of Bihar and the FIR in relation to the actor’s death was also filed there while other pending cases are in Mumbai and even the addresses of defendants are situated in Maharashtra and the jurisdiction of Delhi High Court to entertain the suit is not made out.
“The film of defendant no. 7 (Mishra) ‘Shashank’ is totally based on portraying struggle of outsiders in Bollywood. The theme and story is based on four young boys. Defendant no. 7 is also great example of struggle as an outsider of Mumbai in Bollywood,” the reply said.
The director vehemently denied that his film was based on life of Singh’s son and urged the court that the suit be dismissed.
The suit, filed through advocates Akshay Dev, Varun singh, Abhijeet Pandey and Samruddhi Bendbhar, said “The defendants (filmmakers), taking advantage of this situation, have been trying to encash this opportunity for ulterior motives”.
"Thus, Plaintiff (Singh) has apprehension that various plays, movies, web-series, books, interviews or other material may be published which would harm the reputation of the son of the plaintiff and his family," claimed the suit which has sought damages of over Rs 2 crores from the filmmakers for "loss of reputation, mental trauma and harassment" to Rajput's family.
It has also claimed that in case a "movie, web-series, book or any other content of similar nature is allowed to be published or broadcasted, it would affect the right of the victim and deceased for a free and fair trial as it may cause prejudice to them".
The suit has also contended that Rajput being a well-known celebrity, "any misuse of his name/ image/ caricature/ style of delivering dialogues also amounts to infringement of the personality right vested with the plaintiff besides amounting to acts of passing off".
"The said right would be available to the plaintiff after his son's death as he is the only legal heir of Sushant Singh Rajput," it has further contended.
Singh, in his plea, has sought directions from the court to restrain the filmmakers mentioned in the suit as well as anyone else from using his son's " name/ caricature/ lifestyle or likeness in their forthcoming project/films in any manner whatsoever".