Bollywood is going to the mattresses, to borrow a phrase from The Godfather, with television channels that have waged a campaign in recent months painting the film industry as a den of vice and crime.

On Monday, the Hindi film industry’s most powerful filmmakers filed a civil suit in the Delhi High Court against Times Now and Republic TV seeking “redress against the irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory reporting”.

Among the marquee actors with their own production companies who have joined the suit are Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. Virtually every well-known director has signed on, from Rohit Shetty and Vidhu Vinod Chopra to Zoya Akhtar and Luv Ranjan. Aditya Chopra’s Yash Raj Films, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, the corporate company Reliance Entertainment and Sajid Nadiadwala’s Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment are part of the appeal.

So have four apex industry bodies – the Producers Guild of India and Screenwriters Association, among them.

The broadcast networks that the filmmakers are taking on are markedly pro-government. There is a huge risk of blowback. In the short term, the response is likely to play out on Times Now and Republic TV and on social media. We can expect on-air drama and tweetstorms. Besides, as gangster movies have...

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