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I recently watched Dangal (Indian Movie about wrestling) and in that movie, coach "Pramod Kadam" (Character name: "coach from NSA/NIS") was characterised as a negative role. Later I heard that "PR Sondhi" (Assumed real name of character "Pramod Kadam") was upset about how he was characterised in that movie.

So before doing a movie like Dangal, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story or Sachin: A Billion Dreams, do the film makers contact all main characters and get a signed consent after showing the screenplay (at least their part in the movie?).

Is there any rule to get signed consent from all real life characters while doing biography movies? (If possible I want specific answer about Indian movies).

If there is any such rule, was PR Sondhi not properly informed about the character to increase the dramatic content in the movie?

If there is no such rule, can this be exploited just like the above example for the reach of the movie?

  • I don't understand.... If the film didn't give the characters the same name as the real life person who inspired the character, why would they need permission? – Catija Jan 12 '17 at 4:54
  • The central character went to NIS(National Institute of Sports) to get trained for international events and PR Sondhi was the one who coached her ! The movie tells the story happened before 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi. So I think even though the name is different it is obvious that "Pramod Kadam" was "PR Sondhi". – prado Jan 12 '17 at 4:59
  • I can't speak for Indian laws but my basic understanding of the practice in the US sort of hinges on the character's name. That's why films have the "Work of Fiction" disclaimer at the end "This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental." slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/08/26/… – Catija Jan 12 '17 at 5:05
  • Based on this image, it looks like they do the same thing in India, at least parts of it. – Catija Jan 12 '17 at 5:08
  • @Catija : In India also they use "Work of Fiction" disclaimer, but not in the movie like Dangal (biopic), also at the end of Dangal they are showing the real life characters(Father and 2 daughters). – prado Jan 12 '17 at 5:16
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In the United States, anyway, there's 'legal' and 'what you can get away with.' It's not like the police will arrest a filmmaker for using a slightly fictionalized version of a real person. The producers do, however, run the risk of getting sued for defamation or libel by that real person. Then, if the real-life person DOES sue them for defamation, he/she has to prove it was really based on him/her to the satisfaction of a jury.

Here's an interesting article about libel laws and fictionalized characters: http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/real_people_in_fiction.html

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