Afreen Fatima Zaidi, a teacher, had seen promos and trailers of Yash Raj Films movie “Fan” on various television channels. These promos contained the song “Jabra Fan”. Since she found it appealing, Zaidi decided to view the movie along with her family. After purchasing the cinema hall tickets, and watching the movie, the family was extremely disappointed to find that it did not contain the “Jabra” Fan song.
Zaidi felt aggrieved by the deliberately misleading promos, as the song was missing in the movie. Feeling cheated and deceived, she filed a consumer complaint before the Maharashtra State Commission against Yash Raj Films and also the Central Board of Film Certification. She sought a direction to the producers to disclose in the promos that this song was not included in the film.
The producers contested the complaint. Even though they admitted that the promotional trailer did contain this song, their defence was that during the press interviews it had been disclosed that it would not be a part of the movie. So, the general public was made aware of the facts. They also argued that Zaidi could not be termed to be their consumer, and so the complaint was not maintainable.
The Forum upheld the objections and dismissed the complaint. Zaidi appealed to the Maharashtra State Commission which set aside the order and directed Yash Raj Films to pay Zaidi Rs 10,000 as compensation along with Rs 5,000 towards litigation expenses.
Yash Raj Films challenged this order through a revision petition. The National Commission observed that payment of consideration is necessary for being considered to be a consumer. However, it was not necessary that this payment must be made directly. Even if the consideration flows through an intermediary, a seller or a service provider could be held liable. Since the film producer and distributor get revenue through the screening of the movie, it was held that Zaidi would be a consumer as she had purchased tickets for viewing the movie.
On merits, the National Commission observed that any public declaration through press interviews would be pointless, as a person decides to view a movie on the basis of the promos and trailer. Also, a presumption cannot be drawn that a person who has seen the promo would have also viewed the press interview given by the actor or the producer. The Commission also questioned the logic of having a song in the trailer which was not included in the movie unless the intention was to deceive the viewer.
Accordingly, by its order of February 18, 2020, delivered by Justice V K Jain, the National Commission concluded that Yash Raj Films was guilty of having indulged in unfair trade practice. The order of the Maharashtra State Commission awarding compensation was upheld, and the revision was dismissed.