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Film studios forced to take legal counsel as controversies hit projects

Already reeling from the pandemic, film studios are now seeking legal advice to ensure safe release of films often targeted by fringe groups and others threatening to disrupt screening.

Akshay Kumar’s Prithviraj was forced to change its title to Samrat Prithiviraj by a Rajasthan-based group. There was a dispute around the misrepresentation of the protagonist in Gangubai Kathiawadi and objections to the character of a freedom fighter in SS Rajamouli’s RRR wearing a skull cap.

To avoid such conflicts, legal experts hired by studios said they’re advising clients to stick to authentic sources, getting content vetted, having clean contracts for book rights, signing agreements with families of the film subject and contest cases if any disputes arose before the release.

“In terms of making movies on historical events or characters, it is seen that creators have to tread a very thin line as space for creative freedom is shrinking. Even historians have more than one interpretation or view of a character or an event, hence any content showcasing a different point of view has the potential to get entangled in controversy or legal,” said Siddharth Mahajan, partner at Athena Legal.

Film producers said they need to be pragmatic as the business has just resumed after the pandemic. “In case of Samrat Prithviraj, they couldn’t afford to lose out on Rajasthan, where the Karni Sena had demanded a change in title,” said a producer, declining to be named. Live Mint

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