Kukatpally court asks Hyd based filmmaker to pay Rs 10L fine for seeking ban on Amitabh's 'Jhund' release

Kukatpally Court dismissed a petition by independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar seeking recall of a January 2021 order where the suit for damages filed by him was disposed of as withdrawn pursuant to a settlement agreement.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  4 March 2022 4:42 PM GMT
Kukatpally court asks Hyd based filmmaker to pay Rs 10L fine for seeking ban on Amitabhs Jhund release

Hyderabad: Kukatpally Court dismissed a petition by independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar seeking recall of a January 2021 order where the suit for damages filed by him was disposed of as withdrawn pursuant to a settlement agreement.

The Court also imposed a cost of Rs 10 lakh on Kumar which has to be deposited with the PM Cares Fund, as reported by Bar and Bench.

The petitioner claimed that the settlement agreement was based on fraud and misrepresentation, thus he sought recall of the order and effectively an injunction on the release of the film Jhund, slated to release on March 4, 2022 in theatres worldwide.

The row started in 2018 when the makers announced that the movie will go on the floors. The movie is based on the life story of Vijay Barse, played by Amitabh Bachchan, a football coach in Mumbai slums.

The independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar alleged that the makers of Jhund violated the copyright.

Vijay Barse coached a player Akhilesh Paul who was the captain of the slum football team. Akhilesh Paul appeared on the television show 'Satyamev Jayate' hosted by Amir Khan.

After his appearance on the show, Hyderabad based independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar decided to make a film on him. He approached Akhilesh Paul and purchased the rights from him to make a feature film based on his story. An agreement was signed between the two in November 2017. He paid Rs 5.50 lakh as the signing amount and promised to pay the remaining Rs 6.50 lakh before the commencement of the shooting.

Akhilesh Paul also gave the no-objection certificate to Nandi Chinni Kumar in March 2018. The filmmaker registered the script 'Slum Soccer' based on Akhilesh Paul life in July 2018 with Telangana Cinema Writers Association.

In April 2018, T-series along with the filmmaker Nagraj Manjule announced 'Jhund' starring Amitabh Bachchan will go on the floors.

"From Akhilesh Paul to Amitabh Bachchan, I sent emails to everyone involved in this film. I hold the copyright and requested them to desist from indulging in any such infringement," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

The filmmaker said in contravention to terms and conditions of the agreement, Akhilesh Paul assigned his true life story to third parties based on which Tamil film "Bigil' was made.

When 'Bigil' was released in October 2019, Chinni Kumar filed a complaint in Gachibowli Police Station against Akhilesh Paul. The filmmaker later obtained an ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining Amazon Prime from streaming Bigil.

Nandi Chinni Kumar also sent a legal notice to Akhilesh Paul, the makers of Jhund, and even Amitabh Bachchan asking them to stop the shoot, post-production, marketing, and releasing Jhund.

But, the makers of Jhund announced that on May 8, 2020, the film will be released. On May 13, Nandi Chinni Kumar filed a suit in Kukatpally court.

On September 17, 2020 the court restrained the release of the film until further orders. The court also barred exhibiting and broadcasting Jhund in India by Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Super cassette private limited, which produces the movie, and director Nagaraj Manjule approached Telangana High Court to dismiss the injunction orders. On October 19, the High Court dismissed the filmmaker's petition.

In November 2020, a three-judge bench of SC led by Chief Justice SA Bobde dismissed the plea by Super Cassettes challenging the October 19 order of the Telangana High Court restraining the release of the movie in India and abroad.

"Akhilesh Paul confessed to me that he has signed an agreement with Nagraj Manjule for the film. In the SLP, filmmakers agreed that Akhilesh Paul signed a contract with them in February 2018. This is a breach of contract and confidence by Akhilesh Paul. They suppressed this fact in the trial court," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

In the first week of November, he filed a contempt of court case against Amazon prime after receiving the information that the streaming platform has agreed to release the film. However, he later denied it.

Nandi Chinni Kumar said the makers of Jhund argue that Akhilesh Paul's story is in the public domain. They are repeatedly changing the stance in court.

"Nagraj Manjule, a national film award winner director is also involved in suppressing the fact. When I had a conversation with him, he said he would resolve the issue. It is not about the settlement, it's about accepting the facts of copyright law," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

On calling out Amitabh Bachchan, the Hyderabad-based filmmaker said he even wrote an open letter to him but he maintained eerie silence.

Nandi Chinni Kumar said they had met the Super Cassettes for outside-the-court settlement, but due to certain clauses in the agreement, he pulled out.

In 2021, the makers of the film entered into a settlement after paying Rs 5 crore to Hyderabad-based filmmaker.

It was Kumar's submission in the present case that after the top court's refusal to interfere, the defendants approached him for an out-of-court settlement multiple times, and after several negotiations, he accepted the terms and withdrew all cases.

However, the defendants failed to keep up their end of the bargain. Thus, Kumar urged the trial court to recall the order disposing of the earlier petition submitting that not doing so would cause irreparable damage to the petitioner.

The trial court, however, refused to this prayer while imposing costs on Kumar to be paid to the PM Cares Fund within 30 days. In case of failure to pay the amount, the District Collector can recover the same within 30 days, the Court said.

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