Exactly one month ago, Superstar Rajinikanth had successfully obtained an order granting stay of a film titled ‘Main Hoon Rajinikanth’; Rajinikanth had alleged that the producer of the film had not sought the actor’s permission before using his name in the title of the film. Rajinikanth had sought the stay order on the ground that the film’s producers were wrongfully exploiting Rajinikanth’s name and the film if released would cause damage to the actor’s reputation and goodwill. (You can read Gopika’s blog here).
It seems that noted Bollywood producer, Boney Kapoor, is following suit. Boney Kapoor has served a legal notice on Bollywood producer, Ram Gopal Verma, who recently launched the first look of his soon-to-released Telugu film titled ‘Sridevi’. The poster shows a midriff baring woman in a sari while a teenage boy looks on lecherously. While the woman in the poster is clearly not Sridevi, there are speculations galore that the film is based on Ram Gopal Verma’s crush on Sridevi when he was young, a fact which the producer has openly admitted in the media before.
Sridevi, widely acclaimed to be one of the most popular actresses of her time, is Boney Kapoor’s wife. Boney Kapoor seems infuriated with the association of Sridevi’s name with the film which he fears would cause damage to the actresses’ reputation (a reason which factored in the case brought by Rajinikanth).
Further, it appears that Ram Gopal Verma is trying to cash in on the popularity of Sridevi since the film had earlier been titled ‘Savitri’. Ram Gopal Verma, however, denies the claim on his Facebook Page saying that the film has nothing to do with the actress Sridevi and states that many films in the past have been titled ‘Sridevi’ without any controversy and that his film should be no different. He attributes the change in the film’s title to this that the producers had failed to obtain a permission from the previous rights-holders to use the name ‘Savitri’. Ironically enough, the producer while defending the title of his film observes that a name cannot be copyrighted and therefore, he need not seek Sridevi’s permission before using her name as his film’s title.
According to RGV the plot of the film, based on a teenage boy’s infatuation with an elderly woman, cannot be traced to Sridevi (who enjoys the reputation of having had many young admirers during her time) because this theme has been explored by film makers in the past, Raj Kapoor’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and Summer of 42 to name a few.
In his response to the notice, Ram Gopal Verma clearly expresses his intention to stick to the title of the film because he believes that he is within his legal and moral rights to do so.
While Ram Gopal Verma offers quite a few justifications for the use of the name ‘Sridevi’ as the title of the film, I personally am of the opinion that the use of the name was a marketing gimmick by Ram Gopal Verma.
I also think that even if Ram Gopal Verma is compelled to withdraw the present title of the film, Boney Kapoor has inadvertently succeeded in garnering much publicity for RGV’s film, a phenomenon which some would term as ‘Streisand Effect’.