Why promote song in trailer, edit it out in movie, SC asks Yash Raj Films

The Supreme Court bench, while staying the 15,000 compensation for a Maharashtra teacher for the missing song, asked Yash Raj Films why it marketed Shah Rukh Khan-starrer movie ‘Fan’ with a song ‘Jabra Fan’ but edited it out in the movie
The Supreme Court asked Yash Raj Films, which has petitioned against a <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>15,000 compensation awarded for a missing song, ‘Jabra Fan’, in 2016 movie ‘Fan’, why it marketed a song that was not in the movie. (Still from ‘Fan’)
The Supreme Court asked Yash Raj Films, which has petitioned against a 15,000 compensation awarded for a missing song, ‘Jabra Fan’, in 2016 movie ‘Fan’, why it marketed a song that was not in the movie. (Still from ‘Fan’)
Published on Sep 20, 2021 07:53 PM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a consumer tribunal order directing film production house Yash Raj Films to pay 15,000 to a Maharashtra teacher who felt cheated because a song, ‘Jabra Fan’, used to promote the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer movie ‘Fan’ in the trailer, was edited out of the film.

The two-judge bench of justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, however, questioned the production house for marketing the film with the song that was excluded from the movie.

“The problem is that you (production house) show something else in the trailer which is not there in the movie. When the trailer is released, it is a trailer of the movie. Why were you marketing your movie with the song when you knew it was meant to be for promotion of the film?” the bench asked while hearing an appeal by the production house.

Afreen Fatima Zaidi, a teacher in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, complained in 2016 that she went to watch the movie with her family after seeing the song, ‘Jabra Fan’ and felt cheated and deceived when they didn’t find the song in the film.

The district consumer redressal forum rejected her complaint. But she filed an appeal and convinced the state consumer disputes redressal commission. In 2017, the state commission ordered Yash Raj Films to pay 10,000 in compensation and 5,000 as litigation costs. The production house challenged the decision at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

On February 18, 2020, the national commission upheld the findings of the state commission and concluded that there was reason for Zaidi to feel cheated and the decision not to use the song shown in the movie’s trailer amounted to “unfair trade practice”.

In its appeal before the Supreme Court, Yash Raj Films, represented by Naomi Chandra, said it was common practice in the industry to use songs in the trailer that necessarily do not feature in the movie. “The order of the National Consumer court must be stayed as it has far reaching consequences on the entire film industry,” Chandra said.

The judges responded, saying, “If there is a common practice in the industry that does not mean that the practice should continue”.

The bench said the question to be decided is whether the producer of a movie can be said to be a service provider since the movie ticket is a contract between the person who buys it and the cinema hall owner who exhibits the film.

“You need to give a plausible explanation,” the bench added, as it issued notice to the teacher as well.

In its 2020 verdict, the national commission reasoned that it was not necessary that the consideration for purchasing goods or hiring or availing services must necessarily be paid directly to the person who sells the goods or renders services to the consumer. “The consideration may also flow to the seller of the goods or the service provider as the case, may be through an intermediary,” the commission said, underlining that the price of the ticket received by the exhibitor, a cinema hall, was shared between the exhibitor, distributor and producer of the movie. “Therefore, it cannot be accepted that the complainant was not a consumer of the petitioner,” the nation commission said in its order.

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