The Campaign to Vilify Bollywood Must Be Probed. But is the Industry Lawsuit “Authentic”?


The Campaign to Vilify Bollywood Must Be Probed. But is the Industry Lawsuit “Authentic”?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

After TV news channels ran a malicious media trial against the Hindi film industry for months, the tables have turned. Now, Bollywood’s filmmakers and production houses are responding with a legal trial of their own. A collection of 34 producers, including the Producers Guild of India, and four industry bodies have filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against the “irresponsible reporting” of these news channels. Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari, and Times Now’s Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar are named as the defendants in the case.

After actor Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, these two channels were at the forefront of the campaign to vilify Bollywood as having played some part in his death. After Rajput’s involvement with drugs came to light during the investigation, the channels used expressions like “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood” and referred to the industry with terms like “dirt” and “druggies”.

“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,” the lawsuit stated.

While this show of unity from the major players in Bollywood is unprecedented, there is an accompanying attitude of scepticism from some observers. Some believe that this is a token gesture, and not backed by any real will. They note that the case is filed in Delhi High Court, not Bombay High Court, where most of those involved are based.

Others have questioned if filing a case against a channel like Times Now will lead to the industry’s top stars also refraining from dealing with its parent company, The Times Group, which also owns Filmfare magazine and hosts the Filmfare Awards.

Can it be that India’s rampant news anchors might be made to face the consequences of their actions? Or will this be forgotten like yesterday’s news?