Rakeysh Mehra’s new film faces dispute
Manoj Mairta, given credit as cowriter, wants a lot more
Writer Manoj Mairta claims that he hasn’t been given due credit for the film Mere Pyare Prime Minister, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. According to Mairta, he wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues. Initially, he wasn’t even given the credit for the story, which, he adds, the team did later. Mairta reached out to Mehra and also appealed to the Screenwriter’s Association (SWA). Mehra, in his defence, claims that Mairta has made “default representation” and approached film associations.
“I had written the story in 2012... The initial title that I registered was Seven RCR, and I started approaching various filmmakers, including Nitin Kakkar, Aanand L Rai, Anubhav Sinha, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra…,” says Mairta, who was at that time assisting writer to Dilip Shukla for Dabangg 2 (2012).
Mairta shares that in 2014, he changed the title to My Dear Prime Minister, and by then, Mehra also showed interest in the film. “[Mehra] liked the idea and said he will make it, but [he] got busy with Mirzya (2016),” Mairta adds, “He again asked me to meet me in early 2015. Later, he asked me to rework the script, which I did. He replied saying that he might make a few changes... and I agreed. Shooting started in 2017 and as far as I knew, they made only a few cosmetic changes. But when the film promotions first began, I wasn’t given any credit. In interviews, Mehra said that I only contributed a one-line story idea and the rest was written by him. I contacted Mehra and he gave me credit for the story, but no credit for screenplay and dialogue. I approached SWA and their verdict was in my favour.”
We contacted Mehra, and he states, “[Manoj] has made a default representation at SWA. There is another writer in question, Hussain Dalal. If you look at our IMDB post, he is there as the writer [for the film]. All will be resolved.”
Vinod Ranganath, member of SWA’S executive committee, and chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Committee, who took the call on Mairta’s issue, says, “Yes, Manoj approached us and after a proper investigation, we concluded that he should be given the first credit for screenplay and dialogue. It’s true that the story, script, screenplay and dialogues have been written by Manoj. It is also true that Mehra had made substantial changes, but that was done on what Manoj had given. We had called Mehra for a meeting, his CEO came and we discussed everything. After giving our verdict, we said that they could challenge it within a month. But they took four months to get back [to us].”
Ranganath added that Mehra and his team had followed all the legalities of signing a contract with Mairta and paid his remuneration.
Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association, confirms that they and the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association have been approached. “We’ve already formed a committee, who will check both the versions and then take a call in a week’s time,” he adds.
Manoj Mairta ; (above) A poster of Mere Pyare Prime Minister