Delhi High Court clears release of ‘Gulaab Gang’

March 6, 2014

The Delhi High Court on Thursday cleared the way for Bollywood film “Gulaab Gang” to open in cinemas, a day after it put the movie’s release on hold over allegations the film was based on a real-life women’s rights organization in India with a similar name.

Sampat Pal, the leader of the “Gulabi Gang” — a group of vigilantes wearing pink saris who act on complaints of domestic violence and dowry demands — had moved court against the movie. Pal accused the film-makers of basing the movie on her life without her permission.

On Wednesday, judge Sanjeev Sachdeva suspended the film’s screening till a court hearing in May, citing irreparable damage and injury to Pal if the film were shown.

Judges BD Ahmed and S Mridul reversed that decision on Thursday, acting on an appeal filed by the film’s co-producers.

Girish Johar, who heads distribution for Sahara Movie Studios, said they would comply with a court ruling requiring the film to run a disclaimer that it is not based on Pal’s life or her organization.

“There has been panic among exhibitors because this was so last minute, but we are working to make sure that the release isn’t affected,” said Johar.

“Gulaab Gang”, directed by Soumik Sen and starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla in lead roles, will open in cinemas as scheduled on Friday.

The film’s producer, Anubhav Sinha, said the movie was not based on Pal’s life.
“The similarity ends at the title of the film and the name of the gang,” Sinha told India Insight after the court ruling on Thursday.

“Our film is about a woman who fights for her rights, and has to oppose another woman, a politician, who is played by Juhi Chawla. Why should I ask for permission for something I am not doing?” he said.

Pal was unavailable for comment on Thursday but had spoken to Reuters about the film in February.

“They have to at least ask me. It is very obvious that they have been inspired by our work and what we do in Gulabi Gang. I am very hurt,” Pal told India Insight last month.

Pal’s work as a women’s rights crusader put her in the spotlight in recent years. At least two documentaries and a book have focused on Pal’s work and she was a celebrity housemate in India’s version of reality TV show “Big Brother”.

However, media reports said this week that the Gulabi Gang was upset with Pal and would choose a new leader later this month.

(Additional reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Editing by Tony Tharakan; Follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyTharakan and Shilpa @shilpajay |This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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