The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brake on Manisha love story

Mumbai, Sept. 5: Bombay High Court has stayed the release of Ek Chhotisi Love Story, just a day before Shashilal Nair’s controversial film was to hit movie theatres across the country.

The court had earlier cleared the film without any of the cuts that actress Manisha Koirala had asked for.

In a surprising turn of events, the high court today admitted Manisha’s appeal against its order and stayed the film’s countrywide release “until her appeal is finally heard and disposed of”. Justices R.M. Lodha and Dilip Bhosale posted the matter for hearing to October 5.

The judges took into account Manisha’s frantic appeal to the judiciary as well as to the National Commission for Women and said it was their view “that the matter requires consideration”. Manisha has, however, been asked to furnish an undertaking that she would not seek “any relief or damages from the producer of the film until her appeal is finally disposed of”.

The actress had also met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, hoping he would intervene in her tiff with Nair. Though Thackeray has refused to get personally involved, The Telegraph has learnt from reliable sources that local Sena workers, along with their counterparts from Nepal, have arranged a protest march from Dadar’s Chitra Theatre.

Manisha’s other petition, seeking redress for Nair’s breach of trust, is still pending. She claimed that Nair, reneging on an earlier contract, had refused to delete the scenes she found objectionable.

The actress also blasted Jessica Choksi, her double who did the “nude” scenes, for the irresponsible statements the model has been making “under pressure”. Jessica had yesterday said the whole controversy over the film was a “pre-planned and carefully construed publicity gimmick involving Manisha and Nair”. “It is obvious that Jessica is acting under pressure and speaking without knowing the implications,” Manisha said. “She seems to be very confused.”

The real dramatics, however, came in the evening. Spice, the personal relations firm handling the publicity for the film, had arranged a private media screening at 9 pm so that the media could “say what it feels is the truth”.

But just before the special screening, some people posing as officials of Nair’s production firm, Paragon, came and seized the prints from Raj Kamal studio, where the screening was to have been held. Shilpa, the spokesperson for Spice, said the intruders might be from the “other party”. Ten prints are already abroad and awaiting release tomorrow, while 97 prints are in circulation in India.

Shilpa says the prints that are already out in the market will go for screening. “The high court has not banned the screening of the prints that are already out,” she says.

Nair’s lawyers have decided to meet the high court judges tomorrow.

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