Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant any relief and dismissed three petitions filed seeking deletion of the words ‘Kamathipura’, ‘Kathiawadi’ and ‘China’ from the Hindi movie Gangubai Kathiawadi slated for release on February 25.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik was hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) – filed by city MLA Amin Patel and one Hiten Mehta – and another petition submitted by Shraddha Surve, a resident of the Kamathipura area in south Mumbai.
None of the petitions sought a stay on the release of the movie, featuring Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn, among others, but pleaded that certain “objectionable” words be deleted or replaced.
Surve, in her petition, objected to the use of the area’s (Kamathipura) name in the movie claiming it shows the place in a bad light which may besmirch and defame the residents there.
Her advocate Yogesh Naidu on Wednesday said the name ‘Kamathipura’, where a number of brothels operated in the past, should be replaced.
Patel, in his plea, sought deletion of the words ‘Kamathipura’ and ‘Kathiawadi’ from the movie. His advocate Dhruti Kapadia argued that use of these words in the film were hurting the sentiments of people.
“Kathiawadi is a community of persons belonging to Gujarat’s Saurashtra. The use of their community’s name is defaming and hurting their sentiments, Kapadia argued.
Kapadia added that Patel, the Congress MLA from Mumbadevi, has received several letters from residents of Kamathipura seeking for their area’s name to be not used in the movie.
The whole of Kamathipura is not a red light area as depicted in the movie. May be a lane or two we are not denying that, Kapadia said.
Mehta, in his petition, sought deletion or replacement of the word ‘China’ used by actress Alia Bhatt in a scene of the movie.
His advocate Ashok Sarogi said the scene shows a dentist from the North East doing some procedure on Bhatt’s character.
Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, appearing for the film’s co-producer and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, told the court that all the three petitions are misplaced and misconceived and that there is no intention to defame anyone.
Kadam said the dentist featuring in the scene where the word ‘China’ is used is actually shown as a Chinese dentist. The movie is set in the 1950s and at that time this area had several dentists from China, he told the court.
There is a disclaimer in the movie stating that the makers do not intend to cause harm or hurt the sentiments of any person or community. This disclaimer would be shown for ten seconds, Kadam said.
The petitioners have approached the court at the last minute when all arrangements have been made for the film’s release in theatres, he said.
The petitions have been filed by just seeing the movie’s teaser and trailer. The movie has been seen by the Censor board and cleared for release, Kadam pointed out.
After hearing the arguments, the bench dismissed the petitions and said it will give a detailed order later.
The Bhansali-directed film, based on a chapter from writer S Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai”, features Alia Bhatt as Gangubai, one of the most powerful, loved and respected madams from Kamathipura during the 1960s.
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