FILMMAKERS’ CREATIVE RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES!
Whether ﬁlmmakers have rights and liberties to distort history in ﬁlms or to over dramatize the subject covered in their ﬁlms :
A lot of Indian ﬁlms have come under the scanner for allegedly distorting history or for overdramatizing the characters portrayed in their ﬁlms. A few of such Indian ﬁlms are “Bandit Queen”, “Asoka”, “Mangal Pandey: The Rising” “Jodhaa Akbar” “Mohenjo Daro”, “7aum Arivu”, “Padmaavat”, etc. Even English (Hollywood) ﬁlms like “Saving Private Ryan”, based on the Normandy World War Two landings, “U-571” about submariners, and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” were found guilty of a “grotesque distortion of history” by Britain’s Historians.
Sir Antony James Beevor a renowned English Military Historian has even held that Americanization of British history was a particular problem.”You can’t turn every hero in the world into an American,” he said.
Another classical historian Bettany Hughes had alleged that “Hollywood has committed some terrible crimes against history,” describing the Hollywood epic ﬁlm “Troy” as a “travesty of mismatched cultural references”. She even indirectly claimed, “Dead heroes in Greco-Roman dress could not have been cremated with coins on their eyes, as money was never invented then”. Back in India, the Hon’ble Courts have been quite liberal in allowing the Indian ﬁlmmakers “creative liberties”, as long as they interalia do not defame the character portrayed or show him/her in poor light.
Thus the ﬁlms referred to herein above were unhesitantly released despite challenges, protest and/or court litigations ﬁ led by the various outﬁts/persons. Besides the Film “Padmavaat” the karni sena had earlier even tried to seek a ban on the ﬁlm “Jodhaa Akbar” by claiming that Akbar never had a wife named Jodhabai, however they were unsuccessful in their attempts.
Best practice for ﬁlmmakers – Conclusion
The Filmmakers should ﬁrst carry out proper research on the historical character, which they are seeking to portray in their ﬁlms. To avoid any unwarranted and uncalled for arguments at any stage by third parties, the Filmmakers should take the assistance of Deputy Director of Archives Division (Government of India), which is the official custodian of all historical facts pertaining to India. The said Government department officially holds historical archives and can be extremely useful for Filmmakers in terms of authenticity and reliability.
Besides, the Filmmakers should use appropriate disclaimers in their ﬁlms depending on the creative liberties taken by them.
And most importantly all Filmmakers should primarily focus in getting their ﬁlms completed and certiﬁed before getting into any controversy which might adversely commercial success of their ﬁlm.
Also never announce the release date of your ﬁlm prior to receiving the Censor Certiﬁcate.
(The author is an Advocate by profession and has been advising and representing various ﬁlm personalities since almost two decades)