The fight between producer Meenakshi Sagar and TV actors’ body, CINTAA, has just gotten uglier.
A recap- Meenakshi, producer of hit ZEE TV show, Jamai Raja, had payment issues with certain actors, who approached CINTAA, which eventually filed a non-cooperation order against Meenakshi. In return, Meenakshi had sent a legal notice to CINTAA, for extortion, defamation and criminal intimidation.
This morning, CINTAA issued the following press release.
“The controversy between Meenakshi Sagar Productions and the artistes whom they have failed to pay for the famous teleshow ‘Jamai Raja’ despite a lot of deliberations has taken an ugly turn now. It all started with Meenakshi Sagar going to the press and making defamatory statements against CINTAA because CINTAA had taken up the cudgels to get the due payments of its’ members released who had made complaints against Ms. Meenakshi Sagar. The background is that Ms. Meenakshi Sagar had promised to the members of CINTAA that they would be duly paid for the effort they had put in for the production house and Meenakshi Sagar had requested the CINTAA that the work may not be affected of her production house Meenakshi Sagar Productions and in due course of time as per the given schedule she would make good the payments. Despite the passage of that time and despite the said show ‘Jamai Raja’ coming to an end, Meenakshi Sagar failed to honour her promise either to CINTAA or to the members of CINTAA whom she had promised to pay. CINTAA also had a joint meeting with the producer association IMPPA in which Babubhai Thiba guaranteed on her behalf that the payments would be made in time according to the schedule given by Meenakshi Sagar to CINTAA.Thereafter, Meenakshi Sagar entered into a misplaced legal bravado wherein she and her counsel started maligning CINTAA and said that CINTAA is indulging in ‘gundagiri’ alongwith other defamatory quotes. Such irresponsible statements were made to which CINTAA took exception and took recourse to the court which was pleased to issue summons in a criminal defamation case against Meenakshi Sagar. What is highlighted once again is that the freedom of speech has definitely its limitations and if you wrongfully defame any institution or person then you are supposed to be answerable legally. Suvigya Vidyarthi, advocate on behalf of CINTAA filed this complaint case where the learned magistrate summoned Ms. Meenakshi for appearing in the court as an accused and getting herself bailed out in the criminal defamation case.
He said “The criminal court was pleased to issue summons against Ms. Meenakshi Sagar for the offence of defamation. The hon’ble court has taken cognizance of the fact that the freedom of speech cannot be extended to malign anybody. This order comes in the wake of many offending statements given by and on behalf of her in the press and print media.”
Sushant Singh, General Secretary to CINTAA says that “There were un-called for statements by and behalf of Ms. Sagar and we have approached the court regarding the same on legal advice. Let the law take it’s own course.”
Also, the Court had ordered Police Enquiry in the criminal cases filed by the unpaid actors against Ms. Meenakshi Sagar for the alleged offences of cheating and fraud.”
In the interest of fair play, we also spoke to Meenakshi, who dismissed the defamation case filed against her as not important. She said, “Rather, our criminal case is stronger. I guess this is a pressure tactic to force us to withdraw our above action. But the matter will be taken to its logical conclusion. It is funny that they accuse me of defamation, when they put out bill boards, asking their affiliated actors to boycott us. It is a different matter that their notice did not work, for I did one more show.”
We then ask her about the CINTAA allegations that payment cheques to certain Jamai Raja cast members had bounced. “That is not the case and the matter has been resolved. It was only a case of a one-month delay, which was blown out of proportion. I also did not have any issue with the main cast. Only those who came in at the fag end made all the unnecessary noise.”
Have all artists now been paid? “Most, including Sana Afreen Khan, who first raised the bounced cheque issue. In fact, she approached the producer body, IMPAA, for settlement. She subsequently apologized, and got her cheque. Only a few actors remain, and that too because they are associated with CINTAA. If they pull out, we will clear their dues as well.”
Meenakshi further clarified, “Look, the main issue is that CINTAA should have spoken to me and the producer body, to try to work out the issue. You can’t take unilateral actions (non-cooperation notice). IMPAA asked me to take legal steps to defend my interests.”
“And the joke is that the High Court has already ruled that CINTAA has no legal standing. The CCI (Competition Commission of India) has also passed an order that producers are not legally bound to hire artists who are affiliated to unions. Actors also need to understand that we all have to work together and such strong arm tactics don’t bode well.”
Even now, Meenakshi Sagar is ready to bury the hatchet. “But CINTAA will have to withdraw the non co-operation diktat, and then we can sit down and talk. Ideally, such disputes should be settled in-house, and both associations must always be kept in the loop.”
We hope all’s well at the end!!!