Medical charity MSF takes legal action against makers of Bollywood film 'Phantom'

Published: August 28, 2015
'Phantom' poster

'Phantom' poster

NEW DELHI, INDIA: International charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is taking legal action against the producers of Bollywood film ‘Phantom’, saying its misrepresentation of the medical group could put its aid workers deployed in conflict zones at risk.

The action-thriller was released on Friday and features British-Indian actress Katrina Kaif playing a role she has described as an MSF aid worker who helps a disgraced Indian soldier, played by actor Saif Ali Khan, to assassinate militants accused of being behind the 2008 Mumbai bombings.

Read: Hamza Ali Abbasi responds to Saif Ali Khan’s anti-Pakistan rant

In promotional interviews for the film this week, Kaif was quoted as saying, “NGO workers have ties with local fanatical groups” in war-torn regions, without mentioning that many aid groups maintain strict neutrality in order to do their work safely.

In the film’s trailer, her character is seen firing a pistol and rifle in two different scenes.

MSF said it had not been consulted over the content of the film and was not associated with it in any way. The humanitarian agency had “a strict no guns policy” in all its clinics and did not employ armed guards, it added.

Read: ‘Anti-Pakistan movie’: LHC bans screening of Indian film Phantom

“None of our staff would ever carry a gun. Any portrayal that suggests otherwise is dangerous, misleading and wrong,” MSF said in a statement late on Thursday.

“We have contacted the film’s production team and are taking legal action in order to correct this dangerous misrepresentation of our organisation and its work.”

The film’s director Kabir Khan and producers Sajid Nadiadwala and Siddharth Roy Kapur could not immediately be reached for comment.

‘Phantom’ was banned in Pakistan last week in response to a petition filed by Hafiz Saeed. Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba which the United Nations has listed as a terrorist organisation, said the film whose main villain is a man called “Hariz Saeed” maligns Pakistan and vilifies him.

Read: Indian film critics slam Phantom, call it a ‘joke’

MSF – which has thousands of health workers such as doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and psychiatrists in more than 70 countries – said it was essential that the group was not misrepresented given the dangerous nature of their work.

“The only way we can safely work in places such as Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen, where there is active fighting, is by explaining to every group on the ground that we are independent, neutral and impartial and interested only in providing medical care to people who need it,” MSF said.

“Any portrayal that suggests MSF does anything other than provide medical care could endanger our patients, staff, our ability to work in places where people might not otherwise have access to healthcare and undermine our reputation.”

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Pakistani Dude
    Aug 28, 2015 - 5:25PM

    Another ‘Siyapa’?Recommend

  • wadda Nawab sb
    Aug 28, 2015 - 5:50PM

    stop showing Saifs fairness and shampoo ads. dont want to see his faceRecommend

  • Baloch
    Aug 28, 2015 - 6:07PM


  • Pakistani
    Aug 28, 2015 - 6:39PM

    ET are u ruuning put of story? Because you are making stories to promote Phantom.Recommend

  • SNKN
    Aug 28, 2015 - 6:46PM

    Way to go Medecin Sans Frontiere (MSF).. Bravo… Yes, your legal action is much warranted, given gross misrepresentation of your worthy work in countries in conflict. Pakistan has been wrongly projected in this movie too and we feel insulted… This movie feeds very well into the hate mongering machine in India which is distorting facts and telling lies to disinform and brainwash the Indian public… who are readily buying into the lies generated in govt. controlled
    Media and gross distortion of facts and realities in their movies.

    Hats off to MSF for taking legal action to protect their reputation… Movies like these should be banned.Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Aug 28, 2015 - 8:39PM

    Will they take it to the UNRecommend

  • Aam Admi Bechara
    Aug 28, 2015 - 9:18PM

    These petty pathetic hindustani propaganda makers could stoop to any lows

    in spewing their inner filth against Pakistan Recommend

  • Union Jack
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:05PM

    Just got in Harrow cinema in London with my office colleagues ( german, spanish, british and korean) for 8.05 PM show of Phantom. Pretty Excited.Recommend

  • Azi
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:38PM

    I can see a desperation in India everyday taking it to daily new lows. Indian people losing faith in Indian army as Indian def. minister. And why wouldn’t they after their army at best catches pigeons, camels, and planets to embarrass the nation.

    Secondly, the recent disarmament of ttp and bla, their commanders surrendering has India very worried.Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Aug 28, 2015 - 11:55PM

    Well done MSF. Action needs to be taken against movies directors and producers who glorify violence and hate to make a movie to mislead most of the common people who should be offered a healthy narrative instead. Recommend

  • Nasib
    Sep 1, 2015 - 8:50AM

    MSF should do so. Who on earth does not know what Msf does in helping and supporting poor peaple in need of medical support in this world.
    Bravooo MSFRecommend

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