Delhi HC refuses to stay Netflix premiere of ‘The White Tiger’
- Hours before the release of the movie based on the Booker Prize winning novel of the same name written by Aravind Adiga, the court dismissed an urgent plea to injunct the makers and Netflix from premiering the movie.
The Delhi high court on Thursday refused to stay the release of Priyanka Chopra-starrer ‘The White Tiger’ on Over the Top (OTT) platform Netflix on January 22.
Hours before the release of the movie based on the Booker Prize winning novel of the same name written by Aravind Adiga, the court dismissed an urgent plea to injunct the makers and Netflix from premiering the movie, which also stars Rajkummar Rao and Adarsh Gourav in central roles.
Justice C Hari Shankar dismissed an application by John N Hart Jr, an American film and theatre producer who had bought the copyright from Adiga for the movie adaptation in March, 2009.
The court held that Hart Jr and others were “no stranger” to the production and release of the movie and that they have approached the court at the “nth” hour despite knowing about the making of the movie since the last one and half years.
The judge came down heavily on Hart Jr and others for their concealment of certain documents and agreements which they had signed with the producers and the makers.
After an urgent hearing on Thursday evening, the court said that postponement of the film will have larger ramifications on the producers, directors and actors since finances are involved.
“You cannot blame the Coronavirus pandemic for your delay in coming to the court. You are coming at the nth hour and you are disentitled for the relief even on this ground,” the judge remarked.
The court was hearing an injunction suit filed by Hart and his associate Sonia Mudbhatkal, a filmmaker, who had said that the movie makers infringed their copyright which they had got after giving a lot of money to the original author Adiga.
Appearing for them, senior counsel Kapil Sankha said that Hart Jr had thought of a magnum opus like Slumdog Millionaire and he would be emotionally and financially shattered if the movie is released.
He said that since he was in America, he did not have any clue about the making or release of the movie in India. He said that they had expected that the movie would not move due to the pandemic.
Countering his submissions, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, for the producer, said that Mudbhatkal had sent a legal notice in October 2019, raising objections to the movie and a reply was given within a few days. However, till now, no objection has been raised and plaintiffs have come at the last moment.
He said that there would be huge ramifications as a gamut of stakeholders are involved in the process even if the release is online. The court agreed to his submission.
Appearing for Netflix, senior advocate Sai Rajagopal told the court that the movie has already been released in the US on January 11, 2021 and no objection was raised by the plaintiffs. He also said that the makers had gone ahead only after one of the plaintiffs, Mudbhatkal, had signed an agreement with them.
The court took umbrage at concealment of documents by Hart Jr and turned down the plea for stalling its release.
It, however, kept the suit pending and asked the makers of 'The White Tiger' to maintain the account of profit from the movie. The case will now come up before a registrar on March 22 for completion of pleadings and paper work.
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