International medical aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders, is taking legal action against the producers of the Indian film "Phantom," alleging that the movie’s misrepresentation of the charity group could put its aid workers at risk.
The action movie, released on Friday, features British-Indian actress Katrina Kaif playing a role that she describes as an MSF aid worker who helps a disgraced Indian soldier, played by Saif Ali Khan, assassinate Pakistani militants accused of being linked to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
In promotional materials for the film, Kaif was quoted as saying, "NGO workers have ties with local fanatical groups” in conflict zones, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
MSF India condemned its portrayal in the movie and said it was dangerously inaccurate. “MSF staff provide medical care in some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones. 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,” the group said in a statement late Thursday.
“MSF is also very concerned that in the trailer for the film, a character portrayed as working for an organization confusingly similar to MSF is seen holding a gun. MSF also has a strict no guns policy in all our clinics and we do not employ armed guards. None of our staff would ever carry a gun. Any portrayal that suggests otherwise is dangerous, misleading and wrong. We have contacted the film’s production team and are taking legal action in order to correct this dangerous misrepresentation of our organization and its work,” it added.
"Phantom” was also banned in Pakistan last week by a court, in response to a petition filed by Hafiz Saeed, the man accused by India of masterminding the three-day terror spree in Mumbai that left 166 people dead.
Saeed, the founder of the Lakshar-e-Taiba, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by India, the United Nations and other countries, has said that the film, whose main villain is a character called "Hariz Saeed," vilifies him and Pakistan.