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Bangladeshi Auto-Rickshaw Driver Sues Actor Shakib Khan for Using His Phone Number in Movie

Actor Shakib Khan in the film Rajneeti. Screenshot from YouTube trailer video.

A Bangladeshi auto-rickshaw driver sued for damages after his phone number was used in a blockbuster movie which starred actor Shakib Khan.

Shakib Khan is one of the most successful actors in Bangladeshi film history with millions of supporters. His recent blockbuster film, “Rajneeti” (Politics), was released last July. In the movie, the character played by Shakib Khan gave his mobile phone number to actress Apu Biswas. Coincidentally, it's the same number of Ijajul Miah, an auto-rickshaw driver from Habiganj, located northeast of Bangladesh. The auto-rickshaw, a motorized three-wheeler running on gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG) or batteries, is a common form of urban transport in Bangladesh.

Hundreds of Shakib Khan's loyal fans believed that the number in the movie is the personal number of their idol. Ijajul was surprised to receive many phone calls from Shakib fans who were trying to speak with the actor. In a span of five days starting July 10, 2017, Ijajul got a total of 432 phone calls. This gravely affected his livelihood as some of his clients could not reach him.

One female fan even traveled 500 kilometers to Ijajul's home hoping to meet Shakib Khan. This created a domestic problem for Ijajul who is newly married and has a 17-month-old daughter. His wife accused him of having an affair and she threatened to leave him.

Ijajul decided to sue actor Shakib Khan, the director Bulbul Biswas and the producer Ashfaq Ahmed for using his number in the movie without his permission. The district judge was initially hesitant to accept the lawsuit but ordered an investigation after evidence was submitted. Ijajul is seeking Bangladeshi Taka 5 million ($60,000) as a compensation for the distress caused by the phone calls and for nearly ruining his marriage.

Ijajul's lawyer claimed that, if proven guilty, in addition to the compensation, the accused can be imprisoned up to three years. The actor termed the lawsuit as “laughable” and vowed to face the legal battle. The actor added that the phone number was not working when they used it in the movie.

Shakib Khan's fans were quick to point out that this is not the actor's fault:

In a Facebook post, Zahid Newaz Khan noted how this news caught the attention of the world:

সকালে উঠেই দেখি বিবিসিতে শাকিব খান। নিউ ইয়র্কে হামলাকারী, ডোনাল্ড ট্রাম্প এবং ইউকে ডিফেন্স সেক্রেটারির খবরের পরই শাকিব। বুঝুন অবস্থা। বিবিসিতে নিউজ হওয়া অতো সোজা বিষয় না।

After waking up I was surprised to read the news on BBC. The news is beside the news of the terrorist attack in New York, Donald Trump, and the resignation of the Defence Secretary of UK. Being featured on the BBC (amidst all these breaking news) is not a mean feat.

Another Facebook user, Kawsarul Alam Sanjid, also has some pertinent questions:

সাকিব খানের মান মর্যাদা থাকতে না পারে অটো রিকশাচালক এর আছে তাই তার এই অবস্থার জন্য তিনি আইনের ব্যাবস্থা নিয়ে যা করেছেন সেটাকে আমি সাধুবাদ জানাই।

অনেকেই বলছেন যে এটা অটো রিকশাচালক এর ফেমাস হওয়া এবং টাকা পাওয়ার ধান্দা এমনকি এও বলেছেন যে একটা সিমের দাম মাত্র ৪০ টাকা তাই এতো কাহিনি না করে অটোচালক তার সিমটি ভেঙে আরেকটা সিম কিনে নিলেই পারতেন। অবাক হয়ে যাই এইসব মানুষের কথা শুনে…!! কেনো সাকিব খান পারতেন না ৪০ টাকা দিয়ে একটা সিম কিনে তার সিনেমায় ব্যাবহার করতে…!!??

I applaud the decision of the auto-rickshaw driver to seek compensation for this injustice.

Many have indicated that this is a ploy of the ‘petty’ auto-rickshaw driver seeking fame and profiting from this. They even said that the auto-rickshaw driver could change the number buying another SIM card for just Bangladeshi Taka 40 (US Fifty Cents). I am surprised with these talks!! Could not Shakib Khan use another number in the movie buying a new SIM card for Bangladeshi Taka 40 (US Fifty Cents)…?

The next hearing of the lawsuit is scheduled on December 18, 2017.

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