Can’t use Karan Johar’s name in movie title: HC tells filmmaker | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Can’t use Karan Johar’s name in movie title: HC tells filmmaker

BySahyaja MS
Jun 14, 2024 07:46 AM IST

Johar has filed a suit against the makers of the film, seeking to prevent the misuse of his name. In his plea, Johar stated that the film’s title unlawfully exploits his brand, reputation, and goodwill without authorisation, thereby creating confusion among the public who might associate the film with him

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court in an interim order on Thursday restrained the makers of the movie ‘Shaadi ke Director Karan aur Johar’, scheduled to be released on June 14, from using filmmaker Karan Johar’s name and his personal attributes in the title or in the movie noting that such unauthorised use violated his fundamental rights.

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Karan Johar attends the premiere of Netflix series "Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar" directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, in Mumbai, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI04_25_2024_000067A) (PTI)
Mumbai: Bollywood actor Karan Johar attends the premiere of Netflix series "Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar" directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, in Mumbai, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI04_25_2024_000067A) (PTI)

“There is no doubt that Karan Johar has played a role in transforming Bollywood and launched the careers of several successful actors. I have no doubt that prima facie the subject film is a direct reference to Johar and makes unauthorised use of his name,” said a single judge bench of Justice RI Chagla while issuing the restraint.

During Thursday’s hearing, senior advocate Zal Andhyarujina, representing Johar, argued that anyone who has attained celebrity status has personality rights, including the right to publicity and the right to privacy under the common law. He cited various cases involving celebrities such as Rajinikanth, Anil Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, and Jackie Shroff, where courts have recognised their personality rights.

Johar has filed a suit against the makers of the film, seeking to prevent the misuse of his name. In his plea, Johar stated that the film’s title unlawfully exploits his brand, reputation, and goodwill without authorisation, thereby creating confusion among the public who might associate the film with him.

“The defendants are creating confusion in the minds of the public at large that the said film is associated with the plaintiff as the general public will immediately identify and associate the use of the name ‘Karan’ and ‘Johar’ together in the title of the said film solely with the plaintiff upon becoming aware of the title of the said film,” the plaint reads.

The film, co-produced by IndiaPride Advisory Pvt Ltd and Sanjay Singh, and directed by Bablu Singh, allegedly violated Johar’s personality rights, right to publicity, and right to privacy. Johar’s legal team, led by advocate Parag Khandhar, contended that the unauthorised use of his name in the film’s title was intended to capitalise on his established reputation. They argued that such exploitation of his brand name is not permissible under the law.

The court accepted the arguments, observing that despite the service of the plaintiff and the interim application, the defendants failed to appear before the court. “It is obvious from the conduct of the defendant that they have not bothered to contest the claims made by the plaintiff as well as appear before this court,” the court remarked.

The court emphasised that the use of Johar’s name makes it evident that the filmmakers are leveraging his personality. “Prima facie it appears that they are targeting him,” the judge noted after reviewing the film’s trailer.

The court further added, “The defendants are creating confusion in the minds of the public at large that it is associated with him as the general public will immediately identify and associate the use of the name ‘Karan’ and ‘Johar’ together in the title of the said film solely with the plaintiff upon becoming aware of the title of the said film.”

The court referenced previous judgments by the Madras high court and Delhi high court, which have protected the personality rights of celebrities, and indicated that Johar is seeking similar protection for his rights and privacy.

The court emphasised that the film shall not be distributed in theatres or on social media platforms until the necessary deletions are made. The court also prohibited the filmmakers from using Johar’s name or any references to ‘Karan Johar’ in any promotional material, directly or indirectly.

The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 10.

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