Bollywood movie “Neerja”, which grossed an estimated Rs 125 crore in worldwide earnings and bagged the National Award for Best Hindi Feature Film, among several other film awards, could be headed for a legal battle with the family of braveheart flight purser Neerja Bhanot all set to take the producers of the box office hit film to court.
The main contention of the Bhanot family is that the makers of the successful film did not honour their commitment to share 10 per cent of the box office collections with the Neerja Bhanot Trust and the family.
“I will not comment on this issue at this stage. All I can tell you is that we will not tolerate injustice,” Aneesh Bhanot, brother of Neerja Bhanot, told IANS here.
Aneesh refused to give any details about the legal case, saying that the family lawyer will be able to give the exact status.
Sources, however, said that the family is moving the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard and a legal notice has already been served on the makers of “Neerja”.
Starring actress Sonam Kapoor, who played the lead role of Neerja Bhanot and even got a special mention by the jury of the National Film awards for her acting, the film bagged the ‘Best Feature Film in Hindi’ award at the 64th National Film Awards in April this year.
Produced by Fox Star Studios and Bling Unplugged, the film was co-produced by leading fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar. It was directed by Ram Madhvani.
Neerja Bhanot gave up her life, two days before she would have turned 23, to save travellers during a terrorist-hijack of a Pan-Am flight at Karachi international airport in Pakistan on September 5, 1986.
Neerja, who was the senior flight purser of Pan-Am 73 (Bombay-Karachi-Frankfurt-New York) flight, was killed in the shootout following the hijack. Palestinian terrorists from the Abu Nidal terrorist group had entered the aircraft posing as Pakistani Police personnel, carrying arms and hand grenades.
The hijack had left 20 people dead and 150 others injured after a bloodbath at the Karachi airport. There were around 200 Indian passengers on the flight, of which 13 died while over 100 were injured.
Following her act of bravery and supreme sacrifice, Neerja was given the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award for bravery, in 1987. She became the youngest and first woman recipient of the Gallantry Award.
Born in Chandigarh in 1963, Neerja lived with her family in Bombay (now Mumbai) when the hijacking took place. Her family is settled here.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)
By Jaideep Sarin