Never Trust Anyone: Laxmi’s Lawyer On Suing Chhapaak Makers
Chhapaak, a film that delves into the sensitive topic of acid attack and is inspired by the life of survivor Laxmi Agarwal has been hitting the headlines due to controversies lately. After Laxmi’s initial dissatisfaction with the payment, she received for sharing her life for the making of the film, then a case filed by Rakesh Bharti for not giving him credit as a screenplay writer, now lawyer Aparna Bhat, counsel of Laxmi shared that she was “deeply disturbed” to see that the filmmakers did not give her credit for her contribution in fighting against acid attack.
While the film is slated to release Friday, Bhat sued the makers of Chhapaak including its director, Meghna Gulzar and producer and lead actor, Deepika Padukone seeking due credit. On Thursday, a Delhi court ruled that the makers of the film will have to acknowledge her contribution. Bhat took to Facebook to thank her friends for endorsing her contribution and wrote, “I thank all my friends who endorsed my contribution and challenged team Chhapaak in failing to say even ‘Thank you!!’ I cannot match the powers of these mighty producers of Bollywood but keeping quiet will further endorse injustice. I have decided to take my cause to the next level. Ready to face the consequences.”
In another post, she expressed her discontentment with the film for not recognizing her efforts as she wrote, “Have never been the one to demand attention to my work. Deeply disturbed by the turn of events post watching Chhapaak. Compelled to take legal action to protect my identity and preserve my integrity. I represented Lakshmi in her criminal trial in Patiala House Courts… tomorrow someone will represent me in my cause…Ironies of life.”
Now that the court has directed the Chhapaak team to acknowledge Bhat’s work, she shared, “Finally got what’s due!! The producers are challenging this order which reflects that not giving credit was deliberate. I have won my battle…thanks to all of you.” She also thanked her friends, colleagues and family in the post. Bhat spoke to SheThePeople.TV post the hearing and said that the one thing she took from this entire experience was, “Never trust anyone.” She said it with two laughing emojis as the conversation happened on WhatsApp.
Talking about her initial engagement with the film and relationship with Gulzar, she said, “I shared a warm relationship with Meghna. She was very courteous. Respectful. Had actually sent me a draft script where she had credited me.” She elaborated on her reaction after watching the film was that she emailed the makers asking for credit. “I got two responses back. One was that nobody has been acknowledged and second was that she would attend to all this after the movie released. Both of them did not make sense to me. Then I had no choice because once the movie was released there was nothing we could have done,” the lawyer recalled.
“And I got two responses back. One was that nobody has been acknowledged and second was that she would attend to all this after the movie released. Both of them did not make sense to me. Then I had no choice because once the movie was released there was nothing we could have done,” Bhat recalled.
On asking how does mainstream cinema picking up such a sensitive topic impacts it, Bhat asserts, “Mainstream cinema always draws attention to the cause. It has a huge mass appeal. So I think this is an important movie.”
Finally, Bhat responds to what she thinks of the film as she says, “Chhapaak is a good film. I liked Talwar and Raazi more.”