The Delhi High Court yesterday stalled the release of Gulaab Gang. The movie, which has Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla is based on the life of Sampat Pal Devi who was an activist and the founder of Gulabi Gang, a group of pink sari clad women vigilantes of Uttar Pradesh. Pal had moved the High Court seeking a stay order on the film, alleging that the filmmakers did not take her permission and the movie shows her in a bad light.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva stayed the release of the film this Friday, reasoning that it will cause ‘irreparable damage’ to Pal’s reputation. Speaking to a leading daily, Sampat Pal Devi said: “It’s a personal victory for me, my faith in the country’s legal system has been restored.” When asked if the move was driven by the prospect of a monetary settlement, she retorted, “My reputation is at stake. Right now I’m very happy with the judgement. For anything else, please talk to my lawyer.”
When prodded on reports of her ouster from the position of Gulabi Gang’s commander, she replied, “How can anybody dethrone me from a gang that I’ve created? I am, and will remain, not only the commander, but the international commander of Gulabi Gang.”
Pal’s lawyer, Kush Sharma, on why they went to court on release before May
Why did you move the High Court just a few days before the film’s release?
We had sent a notice to the makers of Gulaab Gang’s in June 2013 asking them to refrain from going ahead without our consent. For the next 10 months we sent them imnumerable reminders, but they chose to reply only on February 4, saying that the film bears no semblance to Sampat Pal Devi’s life.
On what basis did you argue that the film is inspired by Pal’s life given that you haven’t seen the film or even read the script?
We based our assumption on the title, the trailers and the posters. There is no group in the entire world other than Pal’s which protests wearing pink saris. Also, Madhuri’s character bears a striking similary to Pal. She’s shown with a sickle in one hand and a laathi in the other. This is very derogatory for my client.
Any possibility of an out-of-court settlement?
Money cannot retrieve the reputation that is lost, once and for all. Right now, we have received a stay order. The next hearing is on May 8, before that Gulaab Gang cannot release anywhere in India.
What kind of resolution are you hoping for?
We’ll see what happens in the next hearing.