A proposed film on the life of Sonia Gandhi has run into controversy with the Congress issuing a legal notice to filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra for embarking on the project without obtaining the consent or authorisation of the party or its president and warning of "appropriate legal action in all fora".
"The Indian National Congress denies, refutes and challenges the accuracy of your proposed venture and does not accept that it is in any manner, partially or fully, a fair or correct portrayal of its President, Sonia Gandhi," Mundhra was informed in the notice drawn up by party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.
Sources said the notice warns of "appropriate legal action" against Mundhra, producer Sunanda Murli Manohar and Rasheed Kidwai, on whose book the film is based, if they failed to "desist from making such misleading claims regarding authorisation, approval or consent, tacit, implied or explicit".
Mundhra, however, said he was yet to receive any such notice. "I am yet to receive any notice and nor do I have any knowledge of it. In fact I am in London right now preparing for the film," he said.
In the notice given through the legal firm Maheshwari and Co, the Congress has expressed concern and surprise that the purported movie, claiming to be a biographical account of Gandhi's life, is sought to be produced without any consent or authorisation of either the party or its president.
The notice, sent under the instruction of Congress Treasurer Motilal Vora, also accused Mundhra and the two others of indulging in dissemination of "false and misleading information", the sources said.
Mundhra admitted he had not taken permission for the film from the Congress but said he had met several party leaders as part of his research for the project.
Asked if he had taken permission from the Congress or Gandhi, he said, "No, I have not taken any official permission from the party, but during the course of my research I have met several Congress leaders, all of whom knew I was making a film on Sonia Gandhi."
Mundhra's project, being produced by British production house Crossover Films, was scheduled to start filming in October. But the director said in view of the legal notice, this date might change.
"Originally, we were supposed to start shooting in October, but if this legal notice has been served, as we are hearing, then the situation might change," he said.
The film has Italian actress Monica Bellucci playing the role of Gandhi.