In a dramatic move, a Hindu and a Muslim have jointly filed a plea in a Rajkot civil court to become party in the case filed by Sandeep Chandrasinh Revar on June 15 against producer-director Govind Nihalani.
Revar had alleged that Nihalani's latest film Dev could hurt the feelings of the two communities and might provoke communal clashes, particularly in Gujarat. He had sought a stay against its screening all over the country.
Under Rule 10 of the Civil Procedure Code Order 1, Suresh Vasoya and Hussainbhai Kachara have sought, through their counsels Dilip Patel and Shailesh Rathod, permission to become a party to the case.
They say 'Revar himself has been trying to arouse communal feelings' by filing the petition, which they say is 'uncalled for'. They have accused him of 'trying to earn cheap publicity'.
"There is peace in Gujarat and people have forgotten the communal riots of two years ago. Both Hindus and Muslims are living in perfect harmony. It seems there is a deliberate effort on the part of the petitioner to disturb the peace and stoke communal feelings.
"Besides, there is nothing objectionable in Dev. Had it been so, the film censor board would not have cleared it in the first place.
"We want to become a party in the case to prove that there are warm feelings between Hindus and Muslims. We appeal to the court to dismiss Revar's petition," say Vasoya and Kachara.
Meanwhile, Revar has filed another plea and sought the court's permission to make the dialogue writers of Dev - Meenakshi Sharma, Nida Fazli and G P Deshpande - also party to the case. The petitioner reiterated that apart from 'violating the rights of an individual, Dev endangers the security of the country' as well.
He is armed with a horde of legal eagles - Kamlesh Shah, Jignesh Shah, Nassir Hala, Rajesh Dal, Suresh Doshi, Jignesh Upadhyaya, Sarfaraz Khan Pathan, Tushar Dhroliya, Mahesh Vala, Nilesh Sheth, Jatin Pandya.
Incidentally, members of the two communities recently had a heated argument over Dev in Mehul Cinema in nearby Jamnagar. The cinema hall authorities were compelled not only to stall the screening but also to refund the money to ticket-holders.
Dev is being screened at Cosmoplex, a multiplex in Rajkot owned by Gujarat Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala. Authorities there have not reported any untoward incident so far.
The Rajkot civil court has adjourned the hearing on both the petitions till June 28. Acting on Revar's earlier petition, Civil Judge D J Shah had ordered Nihalani to remain present in court on June 18. But the latter did not receive the order on time and failed to turn up though he later asked the civil court, through his advocate Magan M Patel, for a copy of the petition.
Dev stars Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri, Kareena Kapoor and Fardeen Khan.