Bangladeshi film star Shakib Khan, one of the country’s highest acclaimed actors, is being sued by an auto-rickshaw driver for using his business phone number on-screen in one of Khan’s recent films. The plaintiff claims that ever since the film launched, he has since been inundated with phone calls from the actor’s female fan base, which caused significant disruption to his life.
The film, Rajneeti, was released on June 25, 2017. During a scene with his onscreen love interest, Khan recites his character’s phone number. Although a common trope in Bangladeshi films, in this particular circumstance the number was not fake or made up. It was the real-life phone number of Ijajul Mia, an auto-rickshaw driver from the Jatrapasha village, in Baniachang Upazila, and the scene made the man’s life a living nightmare. A few weeks after the film’s release, the phone number had already been widely shared among Shakib Khan’s fans, and in a five day period in July Mia claims to have received over 500 calls from women seeking the popular actor.
Photo: video screengrab
“Every day I got hundreds of calls, mostly from female fans of Shakib Khan,” Mr. Mia told the AFP news agency.
“They would say ‘Hello Shakib, I am your fan. Do you have two minutes to talk to me?'”
At one point the phone calls became so frequent that Ijajul’s wife began to suspect that he was cheating on her with other women.
“I am a newly-married man with one daughter,” Mia said. “When these calls started coming, my wife thought that I was having an affair.”
One particularly desperate fan, a housekeeper from Khulna, traveled 300 miles to see him after tracking down his address, believing that he was Shakib Khan. This incident caused Mia’s new wife to leave the family home to stay with relatives as she became convinced that he was having an affair with the woman.
Mr. Mia is now questioning whether he should sell his family home to escape the unwanted attention, but he cannot change his phone number, because that would mean losing business from his established clientele. He has filed a case against Khan, as well as the film director Bulbul Biswas and producer Ashfaq Ahmad for using his personal information without permission. He is seeking five million takas ($60,000) in damages, accusing the filmmakers of financially damaging him as he now “spends most of his day receiving calls.”
Mr. Mia’s lawyer MA Majid said: “It was a fraudulent act to publicize a personal phone number without permission. Until we have settled the case, we have requested to stop the screening of the film.”
Photo: video screengrab
The case will be heard by a district judge on December 18, 2017. There have thus far been no comments from Shakib Khan regarding the claims.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you never use real phone numbers in movies.