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B-Town directors have been facing too many copyright allegations

Filmmaker Kunal Kohli has been asked to suspend the shoot of his new project, 'Phir Se', as he battles allegations of plagiarism. We take a look at recent director-writer tussles which have become commonplace, of late

'Daawat-E-Ishq' co-writer, Jyoti Kapoor has filed a complaint with the Film Writers Association (FWA) alleging director Kunal Kohli's next film, 'Phir Se', is based on the story she had narrated to him last year. The case is now pending before the FWA's dispute settlement committee with Kohli denying the accusations.

An industry source says, "Kapoor's agency had sent her script to Kunal Kohli early last year. He liked it a lot and when he met her, he suggested certain changes in the script. There were also some issues regarding credit and money. Eventually, the deal did not materialise."

Daawat-E-Ishq co-writer, Jyoti Kapoor, who has accused Kohli of stealing her script
'Daawat-E-Ishq' co-writer, Jyoti Kapoor, who has accused Kohli of stealing her script 

Kapoor is then said to have taken the script to veteran production executive, Trilok Malhotra to make the film. However, when Kohli announced about his film, she felt that it bore uncanny resemblance to her story. The source adds, "Her agency had e-mailed the script to Kohli. His quotes about his film that have been flashed in the media also indicate that it is Kapoor's story."

The poster of Kunal Kohli’s Phir Se. The writer-director has turned actor for the film which will see him romancing TV actress, Jennifer Winget
The poster of Kunal Kohli's 'Phir Se'. The writer-director has turned actor for the film which will see him romancing TV actress, Jennifer Winget

Defending himself, Kohli labels the allegations as a 'case of harassment' and questions Kapoor's claims. "How does she know which film I am making? This is being done just to extort money and so that one can be written about and get their two minutes of fame. Fraud cases like this discourage producer-directors from meeting new talent as you can never predict the intentions of people you meet," he rues.

Kapoor refuses to divulge details of the case but says, "Neither my producer nor I want any money from Kohli. We just want him to stop making his film. As far as my two minutes of fame is concerned, Mr Kohli should check his facts. I am a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India and a former journalist. I have really worked hard to reach where I am in this industry."

Malhotra, who is making a film with Kapoor's story, has also filed a case with the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA). Association president, TP Agarwal confirms the news, saying: "Our member Trilok Malhotra came to us along with the writer with the complaint that he has the rights to the story and Kohli cannot make it. He has already paid the money to the writer. We have written to Kunal Kohli to attend the dispute meeting and he cannot start shooting for the film till issue is resolved."

Meanwhile, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has sent a letter to Kohli preventing him from starting the shoot for his film. General secretary of FWICE, Dilip Pithwa says, "The case is currently under dispute. Kohli was called for the dispute settlement committee meeting which he did not attend. So we have sent him a letter asking him not to start shooting for his film till the case is resolved. If he does not comply to our directions, we will be forced to launch a non-cooperation movement against him."

Both Kohli and president of Film and Television Producer Guild, Mukesh Bhatt denied having received any such letter from the FWICE. Bhatt states, "I have not received any such intimation from the FWICE and I am not saying this to protect my member. Let the FWA compare the two scripts and give its verdict. But nobody has the right to stop anybody's work."

Some recent films which have battled the plagiarism heat...

>> 'Mardaani' (2014)
Director Mrityunjay Devvrat accused Yash Raj Films of lifting a few scenes from his critically acclaimed film, Children of War.

The Rani Mukerji-starrer Mardaani found itself in the midst of a controversy when director Mrityunjay Devvrat accused Yash Raj Films of of copying some scenes from his film, Children of War
The Rani Mukerji-starrer 'Mardaani' found itself in the midst of a controversy when director Mrityunjay Devvrat accused Yash Raj Films of of copying some scenes from his film, Children of War

>> 'Bhootnath Returns' (2014)
The Amitabh Bachchan-starrer was embroiled in a dispute over copyright infringement as alleged by Hindi writer Sushant Supriya. He filed a suit in the Delhi High Court alleging that it was based on his short story, 'Bhootnath' published in 2007.

Bhootnath Returns
Parth Bhalerao and Big B in 'Bhootnath Returns'

>> 'Rowdy Rathore' (2012)
Lyricist Faiz Anwar alleged that he had not been given due credit for a song in the film starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha He was then given R80,000 as compensation by the Federation of Western India Cine Employees.

>> 'Jannat 2' (2012)
Vishesh Films paid writer Kapil Chopra R20 lakh and gave him credit as co-writer in 'Jannat 2'. The writer said that the story of this film was similar to that of his script which he had written a year prior to the film’s release.

Jannat 2
Esha Gupta and Emraan Hashmi in 'Jannat 2'

>> 'Jodi Breakers' (2012)
The Bipasha Basu and R Madhavan-starrer was allegedly copied from a French film titled 'Heartbreakers'. Universal Pictures-France had demanded a compensation of Rs 50 crore from the producers of this film.

Jodi Breakers
Bipasha Basu and R Madhavan in 'Jodi Breakers'

>> Ra.One (2011)
Producer-writer Yash Patnaik accused the makers for lifting his concept by filing a case under the Indian Copyright Act. Shah Rukh Khan who starred in the film and co-produced it had to deposit Rs 1 crore to get the film released in India.

>> 'Guzaarish' (2010)
Writer Tabish Romani dragged Sanjay Leela Bhansali to court, claiming that the latter had stolen his story to make the film. After a long legal battle, Bhansali finally had to cough up Rs 3 lakh in an out-of-court settlement earlier this year.

Guzaarish
Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in 'Guzaarish'

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