Counsel mentions 19 parallels between Hunterwali, Rangoon and demands injunction on film's release; Bhardwaj to argue his case on Wednesday
Wadia Movietone Pvt Ltd, which has dragged Rangoon makers to court over an uncanny resemblance between Kangana Ranaut's character, Julia, and Fearless Nadia, argued its case before the Bombay High Court yesterday. They pointed out 19 similarities between their 1935 movie, Hunterwali, featuring Fearless Nadia and Rangoon's publicity material.
Senior counsels Navroz Seervai and Priyanka Khimani appearing for Wadia Movietone pointed out several of the company's e-mails exchanged with Rangoon director Vishal Bhardwaj, former UTV heads Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapoor to support their claim. Looking at the trailer and posters in which Kangana has been portrayed as a whip-yielding and mask-wearing movie star of the '40s clearly proves that it is copied from Fearless Nadia's style in Hunterwali played by Australian actress Mary Evans, they argued.
Seervai said Roy Wadia, CEO of Wadia Movietone, dreamt of making a film on Nadia and was hunting for a big banner to back it. That was when he met Vishal and UTV folk. The script was handed to them in 2006 and they returned it only after 13 months, claiming that they were not considering making the film.
However, when Vishal auditioned two foreign actresses, Wadia learnt that he [Vishal] was still working on the film since one of the two girls had sought his help in understanding Fearless Nadia's character. "It's a clear case of copyright infringement. Both the character as well as the script have been copied. Only instead of Fearless Nadia, Kangana's character has been named Jaanbaaz Miss Julia," said Seervai, demanding injunction on the movie's release.
Vishal had even asked choreographer Shiamak Davar, one of Wadia's relatives, to intervene in the matter, the counsel pointed out, adding, "There are several e-mails when Wadia was in Japan, desperately trying to reach him as UTV was about to back out of the film due to problems of copyright infringement. Vishal was deeply involved in the project and it was impossible for him to back out."
However, the filmmaker has been claiming that Rangoon is based on various stunt women from the World War II era and whatever material was available on them in public domain.
Virag Tulzapurak, Vishal's counsel, even offered to show the movie to Justice KR Shriram. At one point, the judge asked Seervai what his client's demand was apart from an injunction on the film. Seervai in response said he will need to consult Wadia on this.
Justice Shriram noted, "At the end of the day, it is money that settles most matters."
Counsels for Vishal and current producers Viacom 18 will argue their case on Wednesday.