R Balki: Urge her to come to our office, read our script
After US-based director alleges Mission Mangal borrows from her screenplay, producer Balki says real-life incident can have several interpretations, asserts Vidya-starrer is an "original" narrative
A day after US-based filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj moved the Mumbai High Court to stall the production of Mission Mangal, the film's producer and writer R Balki has rushed to the defense of his ambitious space drama that revolves around India's 2014 Mangalyaan Mars Mission. In a report published by mid-day yesterday, Bharadwaj alleged that the film - featuring Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan, among others - infringed on the copyright of her original screenplay that she had shared with Atul Kasbekar in 2016.
Radha Bharadwaj and Atul Kasbekar
Pointing out that the mission was in the public eye and hence, could have piqued several filmmakers' interest, Balki insists that he and director Jagan Shakti created an "original screenplay" based on the information that was available in the public domain. "There are always many claimants when it comes to a film based on a real-life incident. I am sure many scripts have been written on the Mars Mission. But ours is an original screenplay. We have taken the core of the story and added fictional characters to make it an interesting screenplay. Only ISRO can claim rights to the core story. I urge Radha to come to my office and read our script. I am certain she will find it refreshing. She hasn't even read it, so how can she make such claims?"
In her account, Bharadwaj said that she had shared the original screenplay with Kasbekar in 2016, in the hope of finding financing for the film. In violation of their NDA, Kasbekar's team had apparently shared the script with Balan - one of their clients - and had confirmed that the actor had read it.
But Balki insists that Shakti has been working on the story since 2015. "Jagan has been living with this vision for three years. I have been helping him in developing the screenplay. People can be upset with their interpretation of a story not being executed, but it is silly to try and stop another interpretation that 'is' being executed."
Quiz him on Bharadwaj's allegations that Kasbekar's team had negotiated Balan's deal for Mission Mangal, and the filmmaker says, "Atul Kasbekar does not know of this film. Jagan and I met Vidya personally, and not through Atul. I don't even know if Atul handles her account. Neither were we aware of who else had approached Vidya with stories on Mangalyaan." On her part, Bharadwaj recently completed the shoot of her directorial, Space MOMs, which is based on the same subject.
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