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The Madras High Court has rejected pleas that sought to stay the release of a film and a web series based on the life and times of the late AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The web series titled Queen is due for release on Saturday, December 14 while dates are yet to be announced for the film version “Thalaivi” (leader).

While disposing of a petition by the former CM’s niece Deepa Jayakumar, Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy pointed out that while she had a right to privacy, the film’s director AL Vijay had informed the court in writing that no person depicting her character features in the film. The director of the web version of the biopic Gautham Menon said he did not feel the need for any such undertaking since his production was purely a work of fiction. Through his counsel, Menon argued that the web series doesn’t carry any reference to Deepa and that the series was based on a novel titled ‘Queen’ authored by Anita Sivakumaran. After acquiring the rights, it was adopted into a screenplay that told a story of somebody who is forced to quit studies and thrown into the film industry for survival and how she enters politics. The counsel further stated that more than Rs 25 crore has already been spent in the production of the series.

On behalf of the director of the film Thalaivi, it was contended that the film was neither intended to degrade nor humiliate Jayalalithaa. On the other hand, it told the story of a young girl who fought against all odds to rise all the way up in a male dominated society. Also, it was argued that  the film had a huge costs with big stars and technicians from several countries had worked behind the scenes. The counsel also argued that Deepa had no locus standi to seek a stay little was known about her until not too long ago and it was only after the former CM’s death that she suddenly surfaced as a “relative”.

—India Legal Bureau

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