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Bombay High Court orders Prime Video to take down Telugu film ‘V’ in response to defamation suit

We missed this earlier: The Bombay High Court has directed Amazon Prime Video to take down the Telugu film V, following a defamation complaint from Sakshi Malik, an actress whose picture was allegedly used in a scene without her consent depicting her as a sex worker. Bar and Bench first reported the order. Malik sued Sri Venkateswara Creations, the film’s producer, and Amazon Prime Video, which released the film exclusively last year, to get the film taken down. We have reached out to Amazon for comment. The company appears to have taken the film down.

“What is depicted in the film is a message on a mobile screen with an image; and the image used is one of those from the Plaintiff’s portfolio, apparently lifted from her Instagram account,” justice GS Patel wrote in his order. The order continues:

Mr Kirpekar for the Plaintiff has several complaints. First, there is the wholly unauthorised invasion of privacy. Second, there is the unauthorised use of private material. But most importantly, the complaint is about the nature of that use. For, Mr Kirpekar submits, the Plaintif’s image has been unauthorisedly used to depict her in the motion picture as an escort or commercial sex worker.

He says this is defamation per se.

Prima facie, I believe he is correct. Indeed, I do not believe there is any other way of looking at it.

The 1st and 2nd Defendants [Sri Venkateswara Creations and Amazon] saiddo  that they contracted with a commercial agency to obtain a suitable image for this sequence. They were assured that they could legitimately use this image. This seems to me less than compelling. Surely any right-thinking motion picture producer would have insisted on seeing an approval or consent by the model or person who is featured or to be featured.

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It’s unclear if and when Amazon will restore the film after deleting or editing the scene. The company is currently embroiled in right wing outrage from the show Tandav, even as it is being reported that companies like it and Netflix are deleting scenes and vetting scripts to get rid of content that might offend audiences.

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