Ram Gopal Varma’s Not A Love Story has hit another roadblock before it hits theatres this Friday. Emile Jerome Matthew moved Bombay High Court on Tuesday for a stay on the film’s release. Earlier, Jerome, who is serving a 10-year prison term for ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ in the Neeraj Grover case, had sent a legal notice demanding that Varma seek his consent before the release. He feared the film may be biased against him.
Pointing to the disclaimer at the beginning of the film that states all the characters are fictitious and any resemblance to anyone, living or dead, is purely coincidental, Varma argues, “My character doesn’t even have a naval background like Jerome. I’m within my legal rights to be ‘inspired’ by a real life event or person. Sarkar Raj (2008) was inspired by Bal Thackeray, but it wasn’t his story. Neither is Not A Love Story, Jerome’s story. We’ve been publicising the film for six months now, these last-minute objections seem to be pressure tactics.”
He points out that the Censor Board has cleared his film: “Given all the blood and gore, everyone believed we’d have problems, but they cleared it without any cuts. We’ve relied more on sound and suggestion than visuals.”
Before going to the censors, Varma edited out some scenes and recently agreed to a special screening for co-accused Maria Susairaj, following a legal notice. He says, “I made no changes, that was irresponsible reporting. Yes, I’ve sent word to Maria, but there’s been no answer.”
The film has drawn praise from Mahesh Bhatt for its innovative technology. Says Varma, “It’s a love story without a conventional hero and heroine, shot with 11 people, without lights and a Director of Photography (DOP). It’s been filmed by students of still photography and edited by them. That makes it truly path-breaking.”
Minutes before going to the press, the High Court rejected Jerome’s plea. The film will release this Friday.