The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed the makers of Deepika Padukone-starrer Chhapaak to give credits to the lawyer of acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Agarwal in the film by January 15, PTI 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.
Justice Pratibha M Singh asked film director Meghna Gulzar and producer Fox Star Studios to acknowledge lawyer Aparna Bhat in the opening credits by including the line: “Inputs by Ms Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal, are acknowledged”.
The court restrained them from releasing the film on any electronic medium. “The defendants [film makers] are restrained from releasing the film Chhapaak on any electronic medium/s such as cable television, home viewing, DTH platforms, internet entertainment or streaming services, etc., without acknowledging the name of the Plaintiff, in the opening credits,” Singh said.
On Thursday, the trial court had ordered the makers of the film to mention Aparna Bhat’s name in the credits. Fox Star Studios had then approached the High Court against the trial court order.
Bhat had claimed to have represented Agarwal in courts for years, and said she had helped with the making of the film. She sought to stop the movie’s release on January 10 after her work was not acknowledged.
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 reportedly shared with the lawyer the first draft of the film that had a sentence in the end credits about her work. 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 email 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.