The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday stayed the release of controversial movie Lakshmi's NTR till April 3. The order came a day before the film by leading filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma was to hit the screens.
The court adjourned further hearing on petitions filed by two individuals till April 3. The producer was directed to arrange special screening of the movie in the judge's chamber to enable him to take a final view in the presence of lawyers from both sides.
The petitioners sought direction to stop the release of the movie till the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections on April 11.
P Sudhakar Reddy, the counsel for the producer, argued that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had already issued the censor certificate to the movie. He also brought to the notice of the judge that the Telangana High Court last week refused to stay the movie.
The film is based on Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N T Rama Rao's second marriage with Lakshmi Parvathi and subsequent developments.
It was originally scheduled to release on March 22 but the CBFC refused to process it, citing the model code of conduct for elections.
Varma later announced that the film will be released on March 29 as the misunderstanding with the CBFC was cleared.
Earlier, a TDP worker had petitioned the Election Commission urging it to stop the release of Lakshmi's NTR on the ground that this could impact the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh.
The petitioner complained that the film has portrayed TDP President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in a negative light, which could influence voters.
However, while the film has been stayed in Andhra Pradesh, the makers of Lakshmi's NTR could still attempt to release the film in Telangana and other states.
“We are planning to move House Motion in the Supreme Court and are hoping to secure an order for screening of the movie,” a member of the film’s public relations agency was quoted as saying.