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Prakash Jha loses battle with Bata Group over ‘Mehangai’

Director Prakash Jha has been hit with a restraining order over the controversial lyrics of a song featured in his latest movie ‘Chakravyuh’.

The family behind the famous sub-continental shot manufacturer The Bata Group took the director to the Delhi High Court, claiming the song ‘Mehangai’ was ‘offensive’ and demanding it be taken out of the movie before release.

‘Chakravyuh’ – starring Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol – centres on the long-running conflict between the Indian government and the Naxalites in eastern India and the song alludes to the exploitation of villagers in the region by wealthy industrialists such as the Birlas, the Ambanis and the Bata’s.

The film had its’ World Premier at the 56th BFI London Film Festival last week.

Speaking to The UKAsian prior to the screening, Prakash Jha said the song was an important element in the movie: “It represents the anxiety of the people who have long been oppressed by bad governance and industrial exploitation.  The names used by these people merely make a general reference to the most well known industrialists in India.  It’s not a personal attack.  It is a common refrain used by small theatre groups and performers in these rural villages and towns to dramatize their plight.  It is a symbolic thing and that is the context in which we have used this song in the movie.”

A similar legal move by the Birlas – the family behind the mammoth Aditya Birla Group conglomerate – was rejected by a judge in Delhi on Monday.

‘Mehangai’ is performed by Kailash Kher with the lyrics saying: “Birla ho ya Tata, Ambani ho ya Bata, Sabne Apne Chakkar Mein desh ko hai kata”, which loosely translates as: The Birlas, The Tatas, The Ambanis, The Batas – all have hurt the nation for their personal gain.

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