International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2014 that ended on November 30, had it's own share of controversies. After the producer of Gulzar's Libaas Bikas Mohan sent a legal notice to IFFI director demanding apology over screening the 1988 film, Shankar Mohan's son was caught in a tussle at the festival -- Chintamani Dev, a delegate at the festival, filed a complaint with the Panaji Police station claiming that he was slapped at the screening of Miss Julie in an INOX theatre -- one of the venues of IFFI 2014.
Dev did not name anyone in the FIR but later media reports claimed to have identified the accused as Arun Shankar, Shankar Mohan's son. The Malayalam movie Camel Safari (2014) marked Arun's debut as an actor. He has also featured in several television commercials.
As per the complaint, Dev asked the unnamed accused to stop using his cellphone during the screening which apparently infuriated him and he slapped the delegate.
The investigating officer of the case, S Narvekar told HT that a case has been registered under IPC 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and IPC 506 (criminal intimidation).
Arun Shankar told Hindustan Times that he was appalled at the 'irresponsible reporting' that some media houses chose to go for. He said, "No one slapped anyone at the screening. There was this man (Chintamani) who was misbehaving with everyone at the screening." Arun said that Chintamani abused a senior delegate for attending his phone and added that abusing a 70-year-old man was not appreciable.
When asked why his name was being dragged in the incident if he had nothing to do with it, Arun said, "That's because I happened to be there and unfortunately, I, too, got a call. My phone was on silent but the lights must have caught his eye." Arun further said that the complainant was looking backwards (where the actor-model was seated) instead of watching the movie and snatched his phone. When asked to return the phone, the complainant apparently said that Arun should leave the theatre. "It was then that I snatched my phone. There was no slapping but I must have pushed him or something while getting my phone back," he added.
Arun further said," I have not talked to the media before this because no one cared to contact me. This is the first time I am talking about the incident. What saddens me is the fact that though my father (Shankar Mohan) had nothing to do with the incident, his name was dragged."
Speaking to HT, Panaji Police Inspector Rajendra Prabhudesai, however, said that it was a non-cognizable offence and hence police won't take any action or investigate the matter unless the court issues specific directions in the regard. Prabhudesai said, "The complainant has not approached us after filing the written complaint so we are not investigating this any further. We have advised the complainant to take the matter to the court if he wants."
When asked about the incident, Shankar Mohan said he knew of the incident but denied any statements saying that both the accused and victim were present at the venue in capacity of delegates and hence he would not speak for or against one of them. He further said that he had no idea who was at fault.
Reports also suggested that a woman was seen accompanying Arun without any badge -- something that wasn't allowed for anyone else. Everyone entering the venue was normally asked to show his/her badge to confirm the identity as a delegate at the festival.
Whether it was Arun trying to leverage his dad's authority or it was Chintamani attempting some publicity gimmick, is something that won't come out in the open unless the witnesses choose to speak up.