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Fight erupts off-screen over Randeep Hooda-starrer 'Swatantrya Veer Savarkar'

Updated on: 04 August,2023 07:04 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hiren Kotwani |

Randeep and producers at loggerheads after actor-director claims sole ownership of IP of Swatantrya Veer Savarkar; makers rubbish the claim in response to his legal notice

Fight erupts off-screen over Randeep Hooda-starrer 'Swatantrya Veer Savarkar'

Randeep Hooda

It looks like an off-screen fight will precede the retelling of freedom fighter Veer Savarkar’s life. Yesterday, in a film trade magazine, Randeep Hooda’s legal counsel issued a public notice, claiming that the actor-director is the sole owner of all intellectual property (IP) rights of the upcoming biopic, Swatantrya Veer Savarkar. This has brought to light the tussle, apparently brewing since late last year, between Hooda and producers Sandeep Singh and Anand Pandit.

After the biopic was announced in March 2022, Mahesh Manjrekar—who was to initially helm the offering—exited the project in September. Soon, it was announced that Hooda would serve as the director as well. Sources say the friction began soon after. A source close to Hooda says, “After Mahesh Manjrekar opted out, Sandeep and Anand couldn’t get another director. Randeep, who had lived with the subject and even lost 26 kilos for the role, took charge. He not only wrote the movie with Utkarsh Naithani, but also directed it. When the producers weren’t funding the project, Randeep invested his own money and raised funds to make the film. He has also produced the film.”

(From left) Anand Pandit, Randeep Hooda and Sandeep Singh at the muhurat shot
(From left) Anand Pandit, Randeep Hooda and Sandeep Singh at the muhurat shot

An insider associated with Singh and Pandit, however, offers a different version of events, asserting that the duo fulfilled all their responsibilities as producers. “After Mahesh’s exit, Sandeep was to direct the film. But after much coaxing, the producers gave in and let Randeep direct the movie,” says a source.

Things took a turn for the worse when the actor-director allegedly overshot the budget. “The producers had set two conditions—that he would receive a nominal fee for his directorial duties, and that he would complete the film in the stipulated budget of Rs 20 crore. Randeep not only went over-budget, but also took the negatives and all the footage with him. He also went ahead and released the teaser of his own accord,” adds the source.

On November 3 last year, Hooda sent a legal notice to Singh and Pandit, followed by three more on December 8, June 7 and June 26 this year. While the contents of the notice remain undisclosed, the clash went public yesterday as the actor-director’s legal consultants issued the statement. Besides highlighting his sole ownership, it underlined how the actor completed the film against all odds. “Randeep Hooda, under his banner, has successfully written, produced, directed and completed the film despite all odds coming his way, including financial, mental and physical challenges. He has thwarted obstructions created by other entities bent upon disrupting the making of the film, also attempting to infringe on his legal rights (sic).”

On their part, the producers replied to Hooda’s notices last month, a copy of which is in possession of mid-day. Their response stated that the actor-director has committed several wrongdoings, and demanded that he return the negatives, master and all material related to the film.

Ravi Suryawanshi, Singh’s legal counsel, dismissed Hooda’s alleged claims. He said, “Legend Studios Private Limited, along with Anand Pandit Motion Pictures LLP, are the exclusive joint producers and owners of the entire intellectual property rights and exploitation rights of the film. Our client is utterly shocked with the false and baseless claims made by Randeep Hooda. The producers are in the process of taking appropriate legal action [both civil and criminal] against him.”

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