PLAGIARISM CARD PLAYED RIGHT?
We look at the trend of writers making a noise about ‘their work being lifted’ just before a film’s release
Actor Akshay Kumar’s film, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, is ready for release next month. But here’s what, a documentary maker named Praveen Vyas has alleged that the idea behind the film has been lifted from his 2016 documentary, Manini. The makers of Toilet... refute the claim. They say that they had registered the script with the Film Writers Association in August 2014, and that the script was commissioned to them by filmmaker Neeraj Pandey back in 2013.
It seems there’s a pattern here — of writers staking claim to a film’s central idea, especially the ones nearing release. But rarely have they ever won a case.
Writer Akashaditya Lama had moved court against Mohenjo Daro (2016), claiming rights over the film’s story. Films such as Dhoom:3 (2013) PK (2014), and this year’s Phillauri, Raabta and Hindi Medium, too, went through a similar ordeal.
“We are the soft targets. In this case, a victim, too,” says Toilet... producer Shital Bhatia, adding, “This is harassment. These writers know that by doing such a stunt, they will get instant media attention. We should make a counter-claim and sue them back.”
Hindi Medium director Saket Chaudhary, too, is confident of his film. “We have research and documents to prove that the film is based on original material. The producers are dealing with it in court,” he says.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra agrees that “besides money, writers often do this for a few minutes of fame”. So, what’s the way out? “Makers should sue the complainant. This way, others will also be scared. Laaton ke bhoot baton se nahi maante,” Mehra concludes.