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HC reserves orders on Deepa’s plea

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Gowtham Vasudev Menon accuses J. Deepa of filing a suit for publicity

The Madras High Court on Tuesday reserved its orders on a petition filed by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s niece J. Deepa seeking the leave of the court to file a civil suit for a permanent injunction restraining film director A.L. Vijay and producer Vishnu Vardhan Induri of Telangana from making a biopic and acclaimed director Gautham Vasudev Menon from making a web series based on her aunt’s life.

Justice K. Kalyanasundaram deferred his verdict after hearing elaborate arguments advanced by senior counsel Satish Parasan representing Mr. Menon, advocate Vijayan Subramanian appearing for Mr. Vijay and the plaintiff’s counsel. The filmmakers filed their detailed counter affidavits questioning the very maintainability of the suit and urged the court not to grant leave to the plaintiff for instituting the suit.

Mr. Parasan pointed out that his client had made a web series based on a book written on the life of Jayalalithaa. Claiming that the filmmaker had acquired necessary rights from the author as well as the publisher of the book, he said, “This is not a case where somebody is trying to protect her privacy. It is a case where somebody is behind publicity. The press published the contents of the plaint even before it reached the court.”

The senior counsel also objected to the plaintiff having filed a common civil suit against different filmmakers of whom two were making biopics titled ‘Jaya’ and ‘Thalaivi’ and another had made a web series. “If it is a suit against me, I have no problem, but she cannot bring all sorts of parties in my suit. How is Gowtham Vasudev Menon related to the other two defendants? There can’t be multifarious cause of action in one suit,” he contended.

The court was also informed that the web series was almost ready and it was about to be aired, whereas the biopics by the other two filmmakers might take more than a year to get released.

In his submissions, Mr. Subramanian stated that the Madras High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit against Mr. Induri, since he was a resident of Hyderabad in Telangana. He claimed that even Mr. Vijay was a resident of Kancheepuram district.

In her plaint, Ms. Deepa claimed that Jayalalithaa’s life story could not be filmed without depicting the plaintiff’s life. Therefore, it would amount to interference of her privacy if the filmmakers were allowed to go ahead with their projects without obtaining her express consent.

“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,” an affidavit filed by her read.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 6:53:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-reserves-orders-on-deepas-plea/article29957591.ece

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