The movie is about a teenager’s crush on a woman older than him.
Following protests from women’s organisations, RGV, as he is known in film circles, changed the title of the movie from “Saavitri” to “Sridevi.” The poster, showing a school boy lustily staring at a saree-clad woman, has evoked outrage among a section of the people.
The controversy took a new twist with veteran actress Sridevi and her producer-husband Boney Kapoor sending a legal notice to him, seeking explanation from him for using the film star’s name without her consent. “The title is bound to make the public at large believe that the film is associated with Sridevi. Our client has already suffered considerable embarrassment due to the queries being posed to her regarding the title. Cease and desist from using the name,” the legal notice said.
The movie, produced by RGV and directed by Kiran Prasad, features Anushkriti Govind Sharma in the role of a middle-class housewife. On October 3, RGV issued a Press note stating that his next movie was titled “Savitri” and deals with a 15-year-old school boy’s crush on his teacher. He had also urged the audience to share stories of their first crush, which could be a woman next door, a sister’s friend or a teacher. He also started a contest called “Who is your Savitri?”
Following widespread protests, he changed the title. Responding to the legal notice sent by the veteran actress, the director of several controversial films posted an explanation on his Facebook page, making it clear that he would go ahead with the actress’ name in the title.
“I am deeply hurt by this action of Sridevi whom I always admired and respected and I strongly believe that she was influenced by others with vested interests. I am going ahead with the title “Sridevi” because I am well within my legal and moral rights to use it…legal because a name cannot be copyrighted and also like I said, the film has nothing to do with the real Sridevi to the extent that the protagonist is not even an actress…moral because I know in my heart that I will never do anything to degrade or demean Sridevi. The final outcome of the film will prove that,” the filmmaker said in his Facebook post.
Ram Gopal Varma is no stranger to controversies. A day after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, he accompanied the then-Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to the Taj Mahal Hotel, evoking a huge outcry that eventually cost Deshmukh his job.
RGV has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Recently, his tweets on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi festival stirred a controversy. An irreverent atheist that he is, Varma took to the micro-blogging site to question the basis for celebrating the festival and raise questions over the divinity attached to Lord Ganesha. His tweets set off a storm in the social media with people from all walks of life voicing outrage over his offensive comments. The film-maker finally relented and apologized for his tweets.