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Neerja's brothers take producer to court

Last updated on: May 23, 2017 15:39 IST

Sonam Kapoor in Neerja'Neerja always believed and said, "Do not tolerate any injustice" and that is what we are doing: Not tolerating injustice.'
Subhash K Jha reports.

After winning two National Awards and plenty of accolades, Neerja finds itself in the midst of controversy.

Co-producer Atul Kasbekar is being taken to court by Aneesh and Akhil Bhanot, the late Neerja Bhanot's brothers.

Neerja Bhanot, a PanAm airhostess, was killed when a hijack went wrong in 1986. Sonam Kapoor played the real life heroine in the award-winning film.

The Bhanots are apparently suing for breach of contract.

Kasbekar as producer had promised the Bhanot family ten percent of the profits, a contractual obligation that has allegedly not been fulfilled.

Aneesh Bhanot, Neerja's elder brother, told me: "I will not talk about the case or any of its details. Neerja always believed and said, 'Do not tolerate any injustice' and that is what we are doing: Not tolerating injustice.The rest is up to the honourable courts to decide."

Director Ram Madhvani chose to stay out of the controversy.

"Atul Kasbekar is a friend. The Bhanot family will always be a part of my family. My commitment to them is for a lifetime. I've nothing to do with the financial dynamics of the film," Madhvani said.

"I am not a producer on Neerja. I wish the matter is resolved at the earliest."

"There are two sides to any issue," Kasbekar, a well-known photographer who turned producer for Neerja, said. He later issued a statement which read as:

'Bling had acquired the rights to make 'Neerja' from the Bhanot family. The agreement between Bhanots and Bling clearly spelt out that Bhanots would be paid a fixed upfront amount (which was paid as per the timelines) and a variable amount, which was to be computed as a share of net profits that Bling would receive.'

'It was always abundantly clear that we would partner with a studio, in this case FoxStar India. The Bhanot family was always aware of the same and have in fact met the studio reps on many occasions. To imply otherwise is simply untrue.'

'All financial transactions post release have been shared with the Bhanot family immediately and in a transparent manner. Their share of the profits, which is a share of ours, has been immediately offered.'

'They have declined to accept the same and now wish to get a share of the studio profits. This is effectively a retrospective negotiation and not as per what is signed by them years ago.'

'It is unfortunate that despite having a clear contractual arrangement the Bhanots have decided to dispute the financial understanding at this belated stage.'

'To reiterate, the amounts due to the Bhanots, as per the existing contract have been repeatedly offered by us to them. To imply anything otherwise, is simply untrue.'

Subhash K Jha