A Delhi court on Thursday ordered the makers of the Deepika Padukone-starrer Chhapaak to include the lawyer of acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Agarwal in the film’s credits, Bar and Bench reported. The movie is based on Agarwal’s life after she was attacked with acid at the age of 15 by a 32-year-old man whose marriage proposal she had turned down.
The lawyer, Aparna Bhat, claimed she represented Agarwal in courts for years and even helped with the making of the film, but was not given credit in the acknowledgements. She sought to stop the movie’s release on January 10.
The court said facts showed that Bhat’s plea was well-founded and it was necessary that her contribution be acknowledged with the line “Aparna Bhat continues to fight the cases of sexual and physical violence against women” during the screening of the film.
Bhat said the film’s director Meghna Gulzar had promised her that everyone watching Chhapaak would know that she had argued Agarwal’s case. Gulzar even shared the first draft of the film with Bhat, and it had a line about her work in the end credits, the lawyer claimed. However, after the film’s premiere on January 7 Bhat realised that the acknowledgement had been removed from the final version.
The lawyer said she wrote an e-mail to Gulzar but was told that the director would respond after the movie’s release. Bhat then sent a legal notice to Gulzar, and moved court.
Laxmi Agarwal is now a prominent advocate for the rights of acid attack survivors and campaigns to restrict the sale of acid. Her character, called Malti, is played by Deepika Padukone.