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Film ‘inspired by’ Sushant Singh Rajput ‘ready for release’ after Delhi HC junks family plea

The release of the movie, which director Dilip Gulati says is based on Sushant Singh Rajput's death and how it was investigated, was delayed after Rajput's family objected to it.

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New Delhi: On the first death anniversary of Sushant Singh Rajput, a film purportedly inspired by the actor’s life is making headlines.

Initially planned to premiere on 11 June, Nyay: The Justice ran into some legal hurdles after Rajput’s father filed a plea in the Delhi High Court objecting to its release. He argued that it was made without the family’s permission and was “a wilful breach of rge fundamental right to privacy which cannot be taken away without the prior permission of his legal heir”.

The Delhi High Court, however, refused to stay the release, saying “artistic freedom cannot be controlled”.

A new release date is yet to be announced, as are the details of the OTT platform on which it will be released.

The Bollywood actor, who became famous for movies such as Kai Po Che! and M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, was found hanging in his Mumbai flat on 14 June last year, in an alleged suicide that sent shockwaves through the industry and fans alike. However, his death soon turned controversial with claims that his career suffered due to nepotism in the industry, that he had mental health issues and was in depression, as well as speculation that he used narcotics. His girlfriend at the time, Rhea Chakraborty, has since been named in a chargesheet in a drugs case that is believed to have been filed on the basis of findings made during the investigation into Rajput’s death.

In his petition, Rajput’s father Krishna Kumar Singh argued that movies based on the actor’s life are opportunistic attempts to make money off a tragedy. He objected to the movies Nyay: The Justice, Suicide or Murder: A Star was Lost and Shashank, and an untitled crowdfunded project — all based on Sushant’s life and death.

Krishna said plays, movies, books, and interviews on Sushant’s life could tarnish his and the family’s reputations.

While Nyay is ready for release, A Star was Lorn and Shashank are still in production.

Nyay producer Rahul Sharma told ThePrint, “Our film is ready to get released today, but we didn’t have an OTT partner since channels didn’t want to sign up until the case in the Delhi High Court had settled. We are now confident to release the movie on an OTT platform this month, but the release date and promotion will be decided by the OTT partner. I can assure you one thing though, it will be the first film to release in theatres, whenever they open.”

Taking to Twitter, Sushant’s sister Meetu said she was “extremely disheartened” by the Delhi High Court judgment. “The family is not fond of turning a devastating tragedy into a profit and we will not allow anyone to do so. #JusticeForSushantSinghRajput #SSRians #SushantSinghRajput,” she posted.

ThePrint reached Meetu on Twitter requesting a comment, but didn’t receive a response till the time of publishing this report.

Also read: ‘Justice for Sushant’ chorus dies down in Bihar, actor’s death not a poll issue for any party

‘Information in public domain’

In a telephonic interview with ThePrint, Dilip Gulati, who directed Nyay, said that the film was based on information already available in the public domain, which negates the need to seek permission from the family. He added that the film’s producers had initially tried to contact the family.

“See, as a parent myself, I understand the pain his father is going through. But we haven’t done anything wrong in sourcing information from the public domain. And have also handled this story with the utmost sensitivity. He will see the same when the movie comes out,” Gulati said.

He added that the movie is a “positive movie that never lets the actor down”.

“The movie isn’t a biography. It’s merely inspired by recent events. It focuses on the lives of two young actors and then looks into the work of investigative agencies after the actor’s death. We are not trying to propound any new theories or jump to any fresh conclusions in the film. We’re trying to show how India’s premier agencies have investigated this case under severe pressure, as it had caught the entire country’s imagination,” he told ThePrint.

The Delhi High Court Thursday ruled that if the plot of the movie is based on information already available in the public domain, it doesn’t qualify as a breach of privacy. It had also refused to stay the releases of Suicide or Murder: A Star was Lost and Shashank.

Also read: Sushant’s life was middle class fairytale with anti-climactic end, media found a saleable news

‘Not a biopic’

If you’re planning on watching Nyay: The Justice, the filmmakers say you won’t find a biographical account of Sushant or Chakraborty’s life in it.

Nyay is an entertaining, romantic story that starts off with the life of two young actors who are wading through life in Mumbai, trying to find a footing in Bollywood. They have been inspired by Sushant and Rhea, yes, but we haven’t even used their name in the movie,” Gulati said.

The director further added that he had been working on a similar project — about two people trying to find success in Bollywood — with producers Sarla A. Saraogi and Rahul Sharma for the past two years, much before Sushant’s death shook the country. However, as the shooting was stalled during the pandemic last year, the team decided to rework the script to include elements from Sushant’s life, “making it more topical and giving it a greater connection with India’s audience”.

Playing the lead role of ‘Mahendra Singh’ is Zuber K. Khan while Shreya Shukla plays ‘Urvashi’, a character based on Chakraborty. Other cast members include veteran actors such as Asrani, Shakti Kapoor and Sudha Chandran.

Though Sushant’s family remains opposed to the film, Gulati is confident that it will be well received and even liked.

“SSR has many fans. However, in this case, they’ve overreacted and demanded a ban on the film without even watching it. I am sure once they do [watch the film], they will be the first to promote it everywhere,” he said.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: Media alone can’t be blamed, hate campaign around Sushant’s death shows a collective failure


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