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Bollywood Strikes Back: Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, others sue media houses for ‘defamatory’ reporting

On Monday, four Bollywood industry associations and thirty-four leading Bollywood producers filed a civil suit with the Delhi High Court against four anchors of news channels and unknown defendants as well as social media platforms. They sued the publications for making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood as a whole and members of Bollywood, and to restrain them from conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood. The plaintiffs also pleaded that the Defendants abide by the provisions of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all the defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.

This comes in the wake of these channels using derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood such as ‘dirt’, ‘filth’, ‘scum’, ‘druggies’. The media houses and social media platforms have also been accused of using expressions such as “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “This is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.

The plea reads:

Bollywood is a distinct and well recognised class, comprising the Hindi film industry in Mumbai. Since several years Bollywood is a huge source of revenue for the public exchequer, earns significant foreign exchange for India by way of revenue from overseas releases of films, tourism etc., and is a big source of employment, with various other industries also being largely dependent on it. Bollywood is unique and stands on a different footing from any other industry inasmuch as it is an industry that is dependent almost solely on goodwill, appreciation and acceptance of its audience. The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the Defendants. This is in addition to the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in extreme revenues and work opportunity loss. The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination.