The family of Amrita Pritam, the late doyenne of Punjabi literature, has threatened to move court against the makers of a proposed film on her relationship with legendary film lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, saying it had refused to approve the project even at the inception stage last year.
Amrita’s 29-year-old grandson Aman Kwatra, a Delhi-based researcher in international relations, told HT that the family on Saturday sent legal notices to the film’s producer Ashi Dua and director Jasmeet Reen.
Kwatra said, “My grandmother did not want any commercial film to be made on her life and had consistently declined to give the film rights of her autobiography.”
‘A SIMPLE LIFE’
Eighty-eight-year-old Imroz, Amrita’s life partner and artist, said, “Amrita lived a simple and loving life that cannot be recreated in a feature film. It is painful that some people are trying to make an unauthorised film on her that will only fictionalise her character and life.” Amrita had died at the age of 86 in 2005.
Kwatra said Dua and Reen had approached Imroz and him in May 2013. “They had called us to seek the rights of Amrita’s autobiography for making a feature film on her life.” He said Reen persistently requested for a meeting to discuss the project and promised not to pursue it if the family had objections.
“Believing her, I agreed to meet them in Mumbai in September last year. After two meetings, we told them that the family would not allow the project as we did not wish to glamourise and fictionalise her life,” he said.
‘PAYING NO HEED’
However, Kwatra said the two did not pay heed to this. “To our shock and dismay, in November 2013, articles began appearing in the papers saying Dua and Reen were working on a film on the lives of Amrita and Sahir. There were rumours that Kareena Kapoor had been approached to play Amrita and Farhan Akhtar would play Sahir,” he added.
He said the family then had sent legal notices to the two, asking them not to proceed with the project as it was “hurting the sentiments of the family and was also in violation of the copyrights of Amrita’s autobiography”.
However, neither responded, though new reports regarding the film stopped for a while, he said, adding that “we naively assumed that they had abandoned the project”. However, he said, reports started surfacing again last month in the papers, wherein it was claimed that Dua was proceeding with the film and that she had approached Irrfan Khan and Priyanka Chopra for the roles. “We also read that Irrfan had accepted the role, though Dua made no comment in this regard,” Kwatra said. He said, “It is disheartening that the producer has disregarded the feelings of the family, so they have been left with no choice but to take legal action.”
Ashi Dua told HT that she had not received any legal notice. She asserted that she had all “technical and ethical permissions” to make the film. She refused to comment on her past meetings with Kwatra. Asked if she would go ahead with the film even after receiving the notice, Dua said she could not say anything at the moment.
CANDID CONFESSIONS ABOUT SAHIR
"Whenever Sahir came to see me in Lahore, it was as if he had somehow been conjured up by my silences…He would quietly go on chain-smoking…he would smoke half a cigarette, stub it out and light another… Sometimes, I intensely longed to touch him… When he was gone, I would collect the stubs and preserve them secretly in a little cupboard. And then I would salvage them one by one and quietly sit and light them, one after the other…and I would feel the touch of his fingers by holding the stubs he once had held."
An excerpt from Amrita Pritam's autobiography Rasidi Ticket.