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Ram Gopal Varma says no NOC is needed from Thackeray family

The Sarkar 3 filmmaker believes a disclaimer would suffice to avoid any trouble.

Mayur Lookhar

Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma has played down reports of CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) chairman Pahlaj Nihalani asking the producers of Sarkar 3 to get an NOC (no-objection certificate) from the Thackeray family which runs the political party called Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

During the previous two releases in the Sarkar franchise, the resemblance between Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray and Amitabh Bachchan’s character Subhash Nagre was well documented. Thackeray was alive when the first and second parts of the franchise were made and released in 2005 and 2008, respectively. He died in November 2012.

Speaking at a press conference after the trailer launch of Sarkar 3 today, Varma said, “I don’t see any problem. No NOC will be required, but we will be running a disclaimer that the character is purely fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.”

The NOC question erupted after Nihalani was quoted as saying in a report on the Bollywood Hungama website, "Is Sarkar based on the life of Balasaheb Thackeray or not? If it is, then please get an NOC from his family. If it is not, then kindly state it is a work of fiction. What is the problem here? You are either telling a fictional story or a real-life story. If your film is based on real-life characters you must get the approval of the people concerned. We are doing this for the benefit of filmmakers who get into messy lawsuits just days before their film releases. By doing this we avoid trouble for filmmakers.” 

Many recent films have faced problems before their release with people dragging the producers to court for different reasons. Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon was sued for alleged infringement of rights while Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 was mired in a couple of cases, including one for allegedly maligning a popular brand of footwear.

“Earlier trailers were shown only in movie theatres. Now they are released on social network platforms much before they hit theatres. They are watched by millions, discussed and reviewed. After the trailer of Jolly LLB 2 was released, there were lawsuits as the trailer suggested that the film had real-life references. We have now decided to be careful with trailers as well,” Nihalani said.

Meanwhile, at the Sarkar 3 press conference, Varma dismissed reports of a remake of his Rangeela (1995) as untrue.

Sarkar 3 is scheduled to be released on April 7.