Toymaker Mattel Inc., makers of the iconic Barbie doll, approached the Delhi High Court with an injunction against the film Tera Intezaar. It has objected to a song called ‘Barbie Girl’ from the movie, which stars Sunny Leone and Arbaaz Khan. According to a news report, Mattel believes that the film has used its trademark “in a manner antagonistic to the values and interests of the customers target base, the plaintiffs cater to.” It further adds that Sunny Leone being featured in the song makes it unsuitable for children. Such attributes, it submits, “are provocative and inappropriate”.
But the Delhi High Court had us in splits by asking Mattel Inc. to “chill”. It has refused to grant the ex-parte injunction citing that the case was baseless and arguing that the presence of Leone in the song sending a ‘wrongful’ message to children is a non-argument. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, who refused the injunction, added that Mattel Inc. is seeking in India what it was denied in the U.S. He was referring to 1997 when Mattel Inc. sued pop star Aqua for her famous ‘Barbie Girl’ song. The company lost the case and the United States Court of Appeal had also asked Mattel Inc, to “just chill”.
But the best part of this entire situation was probably when Endlaw read out lyrics from Aqua’s Barbie Girl song during court proceedings to outline why Mattel’s case against Leone’s song doesn’t hold water. Imagine the lyrics ‘I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world’, ‘you can touch my hair, undress me anywhere’ and ‘ah-ah-ah yeah’ being read out by a High Court judge to plaintiffs from Mattel. I’d pay to get a seat in that room.
For Indians, Aqua’s Barbie Girl song was an early 2000s anthem. Even today, anyone who lived through the 90s probably knows all the lyrics to the song. Trying to bring Leone into the picture and accusing her of trying to ‘appropriate’ the Barbie brand is, me thinks, a case of sour grapes for Mattel.