The Madras High Court on Tuesday granted leave (permission) to J. Deepa, niece of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, to file a civil suit against film director A.L. Vijay and producer Vishnu Vardhan Induri of Hyderabad against making of a biopic titled ‘ Thalaivi ’ based on the life of her aunt.
Justice K. Kalyanasundaram passed the order since neither the director nor the producer had denied that they were making the film. The duo had objected to granting leave, since they were residing outside the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court.
They had objected to the plaintiff having filed a composite suit against the film ‘ Thalaivi ’ as well as a web series titled ‘ Queen ’ being made by film director Gowtham Vasudev Menon. The defendants claimed that one suit cannot be filed against two distinct creative works.
Though the suit was filed against all the three film makers, the application seeking leave of the court was filed only against Mr. Vijay and Induri and not against Mr. Menon since the latter was a resident of Chennai and squarely fell within the territorial jurisdiction of the Madras High Court.
Despite not being a party to the application, Mr. Menon too filed a detailed counter affidavit and opposed the plea for granting leave. He claimed that a composite suit could not be filed with respect to different cause of action and stated that his web series was purely based on a biography of Jayalalithaa.
However, rejecting all their contentions, the judge held that he was inclined to grant leave since the announcement about the making of the film ‘ Thalaivi ’ in Tamil and ‘ Jaya ’ in Hindi was made in Chennai on February 24 this year and therefore a part of the cause of action had arisen within the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court.
In so far as the objections regarding filing of a composite suit and the arguments on the merits of the case was concerned, the judge said, that they could be raised by the defendants during the course of hearing of the main suit by filing appropriate applications which shall be considered in accordance with law.
According to Ms. Deepa, Mr. Vijay was directing Thalaivi with Hindi actress Kangana Ranaut playing the lead role. Similarly, Mr. Menon was making the web series Queen with actress Ramya Krishnan as the protagonist.
She alleged that the film makers were proceedings were proceeding with their projects solely with monetary benefits in mind and with scant regard to the need to protect the privacy of individuals.
“Dr. J. Jayalalitha is a great political personality and the said life story cannot be filmed without adding the life of the Applicant (Ms. Deepa) as part of the film. In such an event, the same would amount an interference of the privacy of the Applicant. More so, the Applicant is not aware of the story, script, screen play, dialogue, etc., prepared by the Respondents in producing the said movie and for the web serial.
“The Applicant fears that the Respondents may portray Dr. J. Jayalalitha and her personal life in the life story and the Applicant’s part in the life story may also be depicted by the Respondents in their own version which may affect the family privacy and the Applicant’s privacy,” her plaint read.
The plaintiff urged the court to restrain the film makers from releasing their projects without disclosing their scripts and obtaining her explicit consent.