Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘chetan bhagat

By Subhash K. Jha, January 4, 2010 – 14:18 IST

Chetan Bhagat Those multitudes who have read Chetan Bhagat’s book novel Five Point Someone would agree there are uncanny resemblances between the novel and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film apparently set out to adapt Bhagat’s novel and then decided to go its own way, for whatever reason. Chetan Bhagat shouts foul as he finds his name missing from the opening credits of 3 Idiots, instead they are in the rolling credits in the end. On the other hand, the producers of the film claim that it was mentioned in the contract that Chetan had signed. Hurt and amused Chetan reacts.

You must be very upset by the latest proceedings?
You’re a writer. You should know how it feels to have credit taken away from you. And it’s not something only I’m saying. It’s out there. The book is there. The film is there. They’ve tried to take away from my contribution. My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers. From the time they started making the film, they’ve been stressing that their product is different. It’s like a systematic effort (to underplay my contribution). If you read the book and saw the film, you’ll see the similarities.

My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers

So would you say 3 Idiots is an adaptation of your novel?
3 Idiots is a total adaptation of my book. Some things are direct lifts, others indirect adaptations.

Aamir thinks you are trying to take away credit from the film’s writer Abhijat Joshi?
I heard his comments. But then he says he hasn’t read the book. There’s no denying Abhijat has done the screenplay. What Abhijat has done with my book can only be known if you’ve read it. If Aamir is so concerned about Abhijat not getting the publicity, he should let Abhijat talk. I very much respect Aamir. He’s the reason I thought the project would have a lot of integrity. I know for a fact he was told not to read my book because they told him it’d affect his understanding of his story. I was told it was a different script.

Even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega?

How would Aamir’s perception have been affected if he read the book?
I don’t know. I’m on a firm footing with the facts. See the film, read the book. And judge for yourself. The whole plot-structure narrative, even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega? I mention 42 exams and 16 broken bones in my body. They have kept the same numbers in the film. Kareena’s brother committing suicide on the railway tracks…so many other things in the film; it’s all there in my novel.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir have accused you of trying to make mileage out of their movie?
If I didn’t take up the issue properly, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. If someone else goes and collects the award for best story at the awards functions how will I feel? Only once I met Aamir. When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set. The book has been selling for six years. There’re lakhs of fans of the book. It’s not about Chetan being naraaz and Aamir being naraaz. My issue is not with Aamir. When the other film Hello based on my novel One Night At The Call Centre came, did I say one word against the characterizations or treatment? I was credited properly for that. I haven’t been credited for 3 Idiots.

When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set.

Have you become embittered towards Bollywood?
You could make up any kind of contract. But is there any contract that stops people from being petty? My last novel Three Mistakes Of My Life is being directed by Abhishek Kapoor. I am co-scripting it. There’s a lot of interest in adapting my latest novel 2 States: The Story Of My Life. I don’t think there would be any problem with future project. With 3 Idiots, I know I’m in the right. I’m just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I’m no great artiste. But there has to be fair play. I’m being accused of trying to get mileage.10 lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by 1 crore readers. Wouldn’t they know the truth?

Chetan Bhagat What do you intend to do?
The makers of 3 Idiots are busy with their victory tours all over the country. They’re naturally being asked about the similarities between my book and the film. Sorry I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told. I’ve been told by them, ‘You’re just a writer. You don’t realize how big we are.’ Maybe I don’t realize how big they are. Main kya karoon? But the truth is above everything. Aisa nahin ke pura Bollywood kharaab hai.

Do you think you’ll be ostracized by Bollywood after this incident?
I’m not dependent on Bollywood for my livelihood. I’m a big Krishna bhakt. I’ll follow the right path. If I’m wrong I’ll leave writing and join ISKCON. What does a writer want? That his words should make a change in society. Maybe by taking up this issue I hope to bring about a change in the way writers are treated. Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

What do you hope to achieve?
When they go to pick up the story award I want people to know whose story it is. When they make eye contact with their children they should know they’re lying. We’ve to show that truth comes before everything else. I don’t write for money or glamour. I just need paper and pen. Lord Krishna takes care of the rest.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

’3 Idiots’ director Rajkumar Hirani accuses novelist Chetan Bhagat of slander

By TNN (January 04, 2010)

A still from 3 Idiots

Director Rajkumar Hirani is flabbergasted by author Chetan Bhagat’s allegation that 3 Idiots was majorly copied from his bestseller Five Point Someone without giving him due credit. Terming it a “clear case of defamation”, Hirani says they may take legal action against Bhagat for flouting their contract.

“It’s a clear case of defamation because contractually what he (Bhagat) was bound, he was given. Now why is he slandering us? We are consulting our lawyers. But that’s a call Mr. Vinod Chopra has to take. He is the producer of the film,” Hirani told IANS.

“I am sure it’s defamation because lots of people I know are wondering about the issue (due to Bhagat’s allegation) In lots of Twitter and Facebook sites we have been abused saying, ‘we won’t watch Hirani’s film or Abhijat’s film’. This kind of muck is flying all over the place. I think Vinod Chopra is looking into it, I guess he will follow the legal path,” he added.

Hirani clarified that once Bhagat had given the rights to make a film on his book, there shouldn’t be any “percentage issue”.

Hirani maintained that the basic plot of the film is completely different from the book.

“In the book, there is no bet between the two friends, the journey to find their friend is not there, the child delivery scene, the ‘Balatkar’ scene, the two weddings where they crashed these key scenes are not in the book. There are certain similarities, which I am not denying, but we had bought the rights for that.

“We can use 100 per cent of it. What does he (Bhagat) mean by 70 per cent? Are we supposed to pay more money for using 70 per cent? Are we supposed to give different credit for 70 percent? I do not understand this percentage controversy,” said Hirani.

Baghat has reportedly posted a blog saying he should have got a prominent place in the rolling credits. He also said that he was not shown the final script.

Reacting to his allegations, Hirani said: “We have officially bought the rights for the film. We drew a contract with him and it clearly mentions about the position of his credit. With open eyes he had seen the contract, consulted his lawyer and signed the agreement.

“In the contract, we have said that the title would be given in the rolling credits. We haven’t changed the font size. We haven’t increased the speed of the title. It’s exactly there where it was agreed to be,” said Hirani.

The director, who has a hattrick of hits – Aamir Khan starrer 3 Idiots, Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and Lage Raho Munna Bhai, says after signing the contract with Bhagat, they were not obliged to show the script to the author.

“I was not obligated to narrate the script to him. I have bought the script from him and I am supposed to use it the way I want to use it. I had changed the script drastically, so out of good gesture I wanted him to know it has changed so much and if he feels he doesn’t want to be associated with the film, he can tell me.

“He heard the script for four hours and readily agreed to stay associated, saying ‘I want to stay associated with the film, it’s a fine script’ which he has said in your (IANS) interview too. He signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Now he writes in his blog ‘I wanted to see the final script and it was not shown to me’. It is a blatant lie, he is telling,” Hirani added.

Asked if Bhagat could have a vested interest in kicking up the controversy, he said: “I guess there is a motivation to create the controversy so that people read the book and see the film.”

Hirani says that they never relied on controversies to publicise their creative work.

“Our film is doing exceedingly well. It’s beyond my dignity to create a controversy for a film. We have never sold our soul for our cinema. I’m not stooping to that level to sell my cinema or make extra money.

“When you talk of that percentage thing, it creates a curiosity to read that book and judge the film.”

Would he again adapt Bhagat’s book?

“This came as a shock to me that suddenly he is trying to hog the limelight; suddenly he is trying to take away the credit from the screenwriters who slogged for three years to modify the script. He doesn’t understand the difference between book writing and writing for a film. If he continues doing these things, I would rather not associate with him.”

Currently Hirani is working on two scripts with Abhijat Joshi. One among them is Munna Bhai Chale America, while the other one is a completely different plot. He will start shooting either of them by the end of 2010.

YAHOO.COM (January 2, 2010)

Mumbai, Jan 2 (IANS) Director Rajkumar Hirani Saturday produced the credits agreement with author Chetan Bhagat for hit film ’3 Idiots’ and maintained that the movie was not a copy of the bestseller ‘Five Point Someone’.

Hirani distributed copies of an agreement of credit and a non-disclosure agreement signed by Bhagat Sep 1, 2005 and Oct 3, 2007 respectively. Screenplay writer Abhijat Joshi was also present at the media meet.

‘It shall be obligatory on the part of the producer to accord credit to the author in the rolling credits… as under – Based on the novel ‘Five Point Someone’,’ the agreement on the issue of credit states.

The non-disclosure agreement was signed after Hirani gave a ‘four-hour narration’ of the final script to Bhagat, the director said.

Hirani also supported his argument by giving a copy of an interview that Bhagat gave to IANS Sep 26, 2008 titled: ‘I liked the final script of ‘Three Idiots’: Chetan Bhagat.’

‘The director took my book as the base but he has changed it according to his requirements. He took permission from me before taking my story but has not involved me in making it into the final script. But he has shown me the final script and I have liked it too,’ Bhagat had told IANS.

The credit row surfaced after Bhagat had posted on his blog that ’70 percent’ of ’3 Idiots’ is based on his book and therefore he should have got a prominent place in the rolling credits as well as during the film promotion. He also said that he was not shown the final script.

Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra has said that as per their agreement, Bhagat’s name appeared in the rolling credits and he was paid the due amount.

Hirani, who has helmed movies like ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ and ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, also pointed out that the producer had bought the rights of ‘Five Point Someone’.

Hence, it was their prerogative whether to use ‘five percent of the book or 70 percent of it’.

YAHOO.COM (January 2, 2010)

The raging controversy over the credit for the story in ’3 Idiots’ escalated on Saturday with director Rajkumar Hirani accusing author Chetan Bhagat of “lying” despite agreeing to several conditions including a rolling credit in a contract.

Hirani, who also shares the writing credit with scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi in the Aamir Khan starrer, said Bhagat had approved the film’s script and agreed to the condition that it would be different from his book.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Hirani showed the contract signed with Bhagat, whose novel “Five Point Someone” became the basis for the film. The director said he had made a four-hour narration of the script to the author.

“We never denied Bhagat the credit. I am confused as to why is he saying all these things after the film’s release. We have not stolen the story, we have purchased the rights of the book and can modify or change it as per our requirements. There is nothing illegal in it. Chetan is lying,” Hirani said.

He said that as per the contract signed between Bhagat and producers of the film, it was obligatory on part of the latter to mention in rolling credits that the film was based the novel.

“His name appears immediately after the main cast in the rolling credits. If he wanted to see his name in opening part of the film, he should have asked us after reading the contract itself. I am myself a writer and I respect writers,” Hirani said.

Reacting to Hirani’s statement, Bhagat accused the film-makers of abusing the contract.

Agencies

VIR SANGHVI (Hindustan Times)

Here are two images you may remember from television. The first was the Oscar ceremony. Simon Beaufoy won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire. It is no secret that Beaufoy’s script differed significantly from the book by Vikas Swarup on which Slumdog was based. But Beaufoy made it a point to thank Swarup on stage and to say that without his book there would be no screenplay, no movie, and no Oscars.

Later that same night Slumdog director Danny Boyle, while accepting his own Oscar, apologised to the choreographer Longinus, whose name had been left out of the end credits of Slumdog. When the film won the Best Picture Oscar, the entire unit went on stage including Vikas Swarup who had been flown in to Los Angeles by the makers of the film at their expense.

And here is a second image. It is a press conference in Noida on Friday. The cast and makers of 3 Idiots are answering questions from the press as part of the publicity campaign for the film. When journos keep asking about the lack of recognition accorded to author Chetan Bhagat, on whose book the film is based, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra stands up, points a finger at an inquisitive journalist and shouts ‘Shut up’. Chopra is prevented from saying much more by his colleagues and Aamir Khan then swings into damage control mode. He tries to sound reasonable but manages to abuse Chetan Bhagat, calls him publicity hungry — a bit rich considering the stunts Aamir staged to gain publicity for 3 Idiots — and berates journos for believing Bhagat.

What is the difference between the two images?

I think one word sums it up: grace.

Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and the Slumdog unit behaved with grace. Vinod Chopra and his star behaved with a complete lack of grace.

If you’ve missed the controversy, here’s what it is about. Vidhu Vinod Chopra bought the rights to Chetan Bhagat’s novel and then turned it into 3 Idiots. Nobody disputes that 3 Idiots is based on the Bhagat novel and indeed Bhagat is credited as such in the movie.

The point of discord is the placing of the credit. Bhagat suggests that it should have been at the beginning along with all the other writer credits. Instead it appears at the very end.

In his defence, Chopra says that the end is an appropriate place for the credit because his scriptwriters, including Rajkumar Hirani, the film’s director, changed so much of the story that the final film has little to do with Bhagat’s novel.

Bhagat says that this is not true. Yes of course there is a lot in the film that he did not write but it is still recognisably his story and on his blog he lists several points of similarity.

For the purposes of argument, I am quite prepared to believe Aamir and Chopra when they deny Bhagat’s version of events. I am also prepared to accept that the screenplay is significantly different from Bhagat’s novel.

But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t make a difference.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is contractually obliged to give Bhagat credit as the writer of the source material for the movie. So, the issue is not whether the script is 95 per cent based on the book or 25 per cent derived from Bhagat’s novel. The only issue is one of placing. Should Bhagat have been part of the opening credits? And was it graceless to bury his name in the end credits?

In Hollywood, it is not uncommon for scriptwriters to significantly alter the plots of source material or to only use a part of the book. Slumdog differs significantly from Vikas Swarup’s Q&A. The Firm dispenses with John Grisham’s ending and invents a new one. In Papillon, a major character who was not even in the book was invented by the scriptwriters. David Lean’s Dr Zhivago junked the second half of the book. The recent My Sister’s Keeper differs substantially from Jodi Picoult’s bestseller of the same name.

In every single case, however, the original novel was properly credited and the author mentioned in the opening credits. Nobody believed that this detracted in any way from the screenwriter’s achievements. It just demonstrated a certain grace and honesty on the part of the movie’s maker.

So why, you may well ask, is Vidhu Vinod Chopra being so bloody-minded about denying Chetan Bhagat his opening credit?

The honest answer is I simply cannot understand Chopra’s pettiness.

I hold no brief for any of the principals in this drama. At the HT, we’ve had a bad experience with Chetan Bhagat, who we believe behaved unprofessionally when he was a columnist. On the other hand, I have met Vinod Chopra, have worked with his wife and have always thought well of him. Personally, I have the highest regard and admiration for Aamir Khan, whom I know slightly.

So, this is not about personalities. It’s not even about principle — Chopra has conceded the principle by giving Bhagat his credit even if he has buried it in the end.

It is about grace.

What does it cost the makers of 3 Idiots to give Chetan Bhagat his credit in the space where a writer’s credit is traditionally placed in the international movie business? It would make no difference to the movie’s massive box-office performance. We would not think any less of Rajkumar Hirani, a fine director with a great track record. And Aamir’s reputation as the most consistently successful star of our times would remain intact.

Finally, it comes down to how big a human being is prepared to be. Even people who did not think much of Slumdog Millionaire were overwhelmed when Danny Boyle used the Oscar platform to say sorry to Longinus for leaving his name out of the credits. That was the single-biggest night in Boyle’s life, a culmination of everything he had worked for. And he still found the time to mention an Indian dance director he would probably never meet again.

That’s what I call class.

Our own film industry, however, has not covered itself in glory by the way in which it has behaved over Bhagat’s credit. Our producers, directors and actors have come across as mean-spirited and petty and ready to get into fights over something as minor as the placing of a credit.

Just as India has the potential to become a superpower in the 21st century so Bollywood has the opportunity to become the world’s leading film industry in this century. Certainly, we are not short of talent or of audiences.

What we are short of, however, is grace. And our directors need to learn that no amount of box-office success can buy you class. Our film industry will never hit the big time if its leading lights continue to think like small-timers.

It’s time for Aamir, Chopra and Hirani to show some grace. Otherwise they risk coming across as three idiots.

The views expressed by the author are personal

Bharati Dubey | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; January 3, 2010)


Mumbai: The 3 Idiots drama off screen is becoming as engrossing as the film’s on-screen performances with the issue of opening and closing credits hogging the limelight.


On Wednesday, writer Chetan Bhagat blogged claiming that 70% of the film had been inspired by his book Five Point Someone (FPS). He also complained the script was not shown to him before release and that he was hurt because the producers did not acknowledge his contribution to the film in the opening credits.


On Saturday, director Raju Hirani refuted all charges levelled by the writer. He showed documentary evidence of the contracts signed by him with the production house. He also showed a non-disclosure agreement signed by Bhagat and categorically denied the charge that he was not shown the final script of the film.


“Pre-release, the makers of the film made statements that it was only loosely inspired by the book. After release, those who have read the book and seen the movie find the film to be an adaptation of FPS,’’ Bhagat blogged.


He also stated that his family was upset after they didn’t spot his name in the opening credits of the film and also the story credit was not given to him. But Hirani clarified that the rights of the novel, with complete authority to alter the text to suit the screen, was purchased by them. He said the contract clearly stated that Bhagat’s name would be in the end-rolling credits and the agreement was signed in September 2005.


On Bhagat’s statement that most of the narrative of the film was copied from his text, Hirani said, “This is irrelevant because we hold the rights to the novel. Using the book as a take-off point, the writers brought about massive changes both on the macro and micro level of the story.’’


Asked about Bhagat not being shown the film before release, Hirani said Bhagat “said he would watch it at the premiere, which he did with his family”. But when told that ‘Bhagat-3 Idiots’ drama is also being looked at as a publicity stunt, Hirani said, “It would be below our dignity to do something like this.’’


Producer says sorry
Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra apologised to the media for his rude behaviour. “I really think it was silly. I was provoked as you guys know but I should not have done that. It does not befit me. What I did was silly and am really sorry,’’ Chopra said on Saturday morning. TNN

BHARATI DUBEY Times News Network (THE TIMES OF INDIA; January 2, 2010)

New Delhi: Three Idiots may be creating box-office history. But all’s certainly not well between Chetan Bhagat, the author of the book Five Point Someone from which the movie has been adapted, and its hero Aamir Khan, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and director Rajkumar Hirani.
An ‘idiotic’ controversy has broken out over accusations of credit poaching. The film credits the story to Abhijat Joshi and Hirani. Bhagat’s name appears at the film’s end.
Bhagat is miffed that the film does not give him due credit, but Khan claims that Bhagat is trying to take away credit from Joshi, the film’s scriptwriter. Agencies have quoted the actor as saying that he has advised Chopra and Hirani to file a case against Bhagat as he has defamed them with “false’’ allegations.
Reacting to this, Bhagat told a news agency, “For the past two years, I have trusted Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir blindly and this is what I get in return. Now I am being threatened with legal action, but I am ready for it.’’
Chopra too jumped into the fray on Friday. When the controversy was brought up by journalists at a press meet in Noida, he thundered, “Have you read the book? I have read the book, so shut up!’’ He also charged Bhagat with trying to gain publicity for his book.
But Bhagat was quick to retort that he didn’t need this kind of fame and he couldn’t help it if millions of people who had read his Five Point Someone had spotted the issue.
The row erupted on Thursday, when Bhagat blogged, “Pre-release, the makers made press statements like the movie is only ‘very loosely’, ‘2%-5% inspired by the book’. After the release, those who have read the book and seen the movie (and frankly, I think those are the only people who have the right to comment) find the film to be an adaptation of Five Point Someone.’’

‘3 Idiots’ not an original story: Author Bhagat
New Delhi: Irked at the makers of ‘3 Idiots’ not giving him due credit, Chetan Bhagat, whose book Five Point Someone on which the film is based, has blogged, “The setting, characters, plotline, dramatic twists and turns, one-liners, theme, message—almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that—but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have admitted to me that the film is 70% the book. Still, don’t take my word for it—go read the book, watch the film.’’
But Aamir Khan’s thoughts are different. At a press meet on Thursday, he said, “It is unfortunate that Chetan is behaving in this manner.’’ The actor said scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi and director Rajkumar Hirani had “abided by the contract’’ entered into with Bhagat and the author had been given due credit as per the contract. “For three years, Joshi has been working on the script. It is unfortunate that Chetan is trying to take away the credit from someone not as famous as he is,’’ Aamir said. He also mentioned how Bhagat had dropped in on the sets of ‘3 Idiots’ one day. “During the course of the conversation, I told him that I was still to read FPS and I intended doing it sometime soon. Chetan then told me that Abhijat’s script is different and I need not necessarily read the book,’’ he said. In his blog, Bhagat has also said that “crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that ‘3 Idiots’ is not based on FPS. Bhagat added, “I wanted to see the final script—it was never shown to me. I wanted to see the film before release—it was not shown to me.” TNN
Ghaziabad theatre in dock for pirated DVDs
Reliance Big Pictures filed a police complaint against Galaxy Cinema suspecting it of helping in making pirated DVDs of the film 3 Idiots in Ghaziabad on Thursday. “The pirated DVDs of the film were available in the market from December 24 and it was from those prints that we got hold of the cap code marking which matched with this cinema hall. We then lodged an FIR against the hall,’’ Ghaziabad station road SHO Rashid Ali told TOI. It is learnt that the DVDs of the film were found in Delhi and UP which was tracked by Reliance. Kamal Gianchandani, COO (distribution) of Reliance Big Pictures, clarified, “The sleeves of the DVDs were available in the market but some of them did not have DVDs of the movie inside. Our enforcement team with the local authorities spoke to the local pirates and asked them not to sell the DVD for the first three weeks and also the MSOs asking them not to screen it for the first three weeks. Most of them honoured the commitment.’’ Nearly 2,000 DVDs were confiscated in raids conducted in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, and Sirsa in Haryana.

The Chetan Bhagat-3 Idiots spat is playing out like a typical old-fashioned masala Bollywood film

By Mumbai Mirror Bureau (January 02, 2010)


Chetan Bhagat, whose book Five Point Someone, was the starting point of 3 Idiots, is not only amazed that Vinod Chopra and Aamir Khan have not read the book but also that they have been repeatedly saying that the film is only five per cent like the book.

Chetan Bhagat

“Those that haven’t read the book (read Vinod and Aamir) should not be opinionating on it. Those that have read the book and seen the film put the contribution at around 70 per cent,” he says.

Though he has blogged about his disappointment at length, he insists it isn’t about suing them or about the money.

“I have truth on my side,” he says, “Even when Gandhi took on the mighty British Empire with just a small band of followers, he had truth on his side.”

He is just happy that the film has been to the movies what his book was to the book trade… a super hit.

Has it soured Bollywood for him? His answer is an emphatic no. “There are many good people around too.” Chetan’s third book, 3 Mistakes of My Life, is currently being adapted for film by Abhishek Kapoor (Rock On!!) and his fourth, 2 States is being widely courted by directors. “I took the heat when Hello (based on One Night at a Call Centre) failed,” he says, not saying but obviously meaning, why shouldn’t he get the credit for 3 Idiots?

By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, December 24, 2009 – 18:27 IST

Chetan Bhagat Very few authors have managed to reach out to such a wide audience as Chetan Bhagat. The writer of international bestsellers like ’5 Point Someone’, ‘One Night @ Call Centre’, ’3 Mistakes of My Life’ and ’2 States’ have been widely read and now he is all set to see yet another of his book being made into a film. On the eve of 3 Idiots release, Chetan Bhagat speaks to Bollywood Hungama and talks about why 3 Idiots is a special film, his next big project and lots more.

After ‘One Night @ the Call Centre’, yet another book of yours ’5 Point Someone’ is all set to be seen in its celluloid version (3 Idiots). How does it feel?
It feels great. This time it’s a far bigger film, the buzz about 3 Idiots is enormous. We have done the right thing by putting the film ahead of us. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to reach out to so many people through the medium of cinema.

Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ‘5 Point Someone‘. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times.

The screenplay has been written by Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi…Would you have liked to be a part of the screenplay writing process?
Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ’5 Point Someone’. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times. But it was just not possible for me to be involved at every stage of the screenplay writing process since I was in Hong Kong at that time, working full time and busy writing other books. Moreover, Abhijat is based in USA, Raju was in the US for quite a while working on the screenplay but it was not practical for me to do that.

3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself.

The question on everyone’s mind is how similar the film is to the book? Raju Hirani says that the film is just 10% of the book….your comments.
I don’t think Raju must have said something like that. In fact I just met him a few days ago and we spoke at length about the film etc. See…’5 Point Someone’ has over the years achieved cult status and has its own loyal fans. I am sure they would like to see each and every moment of the book on the big screen but that is not how the process works. Adapting a book and making it into a film is a relatively new thing in India. The film retains the soul of the book. 3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself. And that’s why the makers have officially credited the film as ‘Based on a novel by Chetan Bhagat’

You are but obviously not directly involved with the film and its promotional strategies…does it upset you?
Not at all…at the end of the day I want the film to be a good film and I am happy that a film whose base is generated from my book has generated so much response and is the talk of the town.

Aamir recently was on an innovative promotional spree travelling the length and breadth of the country…what do you think about this marketing strategy?
Chetan Bhagat When you have Aamir Khan, I don’t think anybody else needs to be involved in marketing of the film. Aamir is known for his innovative style of marketing. He will never directly say, ‘Please come and watch my film’ but he will do something that will grab your attention and make you go and watch the film. I am really inspired by his marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Moving on from 3 Idiots, how is work coming along on the film based on your book ’3 Mistakes of My Life’ being made by Excel Entertainment?

I am really inspired by Aamir’s marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Abhishek Kapoor (the director) is very conscious of the comparisons that will come between the book and the film and hence we (Abhijit, Pubali Chaudhari and I) are taking great care in writing the screenplay of the film. In fact even today as we speak, I am working on the screenplay of the film based on ’3 Mistakes Of My life’. We are aware that after Rock On and 3 Idiots, there will be a lot of expectations from people and hence we are working very hard on getting the screenplay right. I think we should be able to finalise it soon and begin casting in a month or so.

Your most recent novel ’2 States’ was launched a couple of months ago…how has been the response so far?
’2 States’ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour. It’s a very good book for a lot of people to relate and enjoy. It also carries a nice message. Especially in the South, the book has done extraordinarily well. I think I have been able to meet my fans expectations which is the ultimate dream for any writer.

2 States‘ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour.

That book would make for an interesting Bollywood potboiler…any plans to adapt that book into a film too?
There have been many offers but I know that my fans would like me to be involved with only A-grade Bollywood. I don’t want to sell the rights to any filmmaker just for the heck of it. It should go into the right hands so that it emerges as one of the best films of the year

What else are you busy with these days apart from tweeting….the buzz is that you are scripting a film?
Twitter is a great way to stay connected with my fans. Yes…I do want to script a romantic comedy. Abhishek Kapoor has taught me a lot about screenplay writing. The best part about working with Abhishek is that he has shown me how the screenplay language works and also how to use restraint. Rock On was such a film that expressed so much more in spite of being subtle. My books tend to be quite filmy sometimes (laughs). It’s ironical that a filmmaker is telling me to be less filmy but I am forever indebted to Abhishek for teaching me these things about screenplay writing. Now I am hoping that I can do a better job.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

HITLIST (Mid-Day; January 1, 2010)

The writer has plenty to say about the movie being touted as being different from his book Five Point Someone

Chetan Bhagat is peeved that he has not been given his due credit in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film is based on his novel Five Point Someone. The writer has vented his ire ‘A book, a film and the truth’ on his blog (http://www.chetanbhagat.com/).

Here’s an extract….

“The 3 Idiots story credit issue has been making some noise now… and I think it is important I clarify a few things. Clearly, the makers of the film have been unfair and thousands of my readers have been saying so.This is not an issue that has ‘just come up’. I’ve been grappling with it for two years, but kept silent about it.

Wrong claims

The only reason it has surfaced after the movie’s release is because Five Point Someone has a few million readers, and when you copy a popular story claiming it as ‘original’ and ‘completely different’, people are going to find out.

The case is as simple as the makers claiming the story as their own, and clearly it is not. Pre-release, the makers made  statements like  the movie is only ‘very loosely’ inspired by the book….

After release, those who have read the book and seen the movie (and frankly, I think those are the only people who have the right to comment) find the film to be an adaptation of Five Point Someone. Almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that — but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have privately admitted to me that the film is 70 per cent the book. Still, don’t take my word for it — go read the book, watch the film.

I, frankly, was shocked to see this. This is because I was also fed ‘this is an original movie’ line a lot. I wanted to see the final script — it was never shown to me. I wanted to see the film before release — it was not shown to me (even though trials had been done for  people).  What’s more, the makers had called me to their office and pressured me several times to withdraw my ‘Based on a novel by’ credit, which was by contract. They told me they’d replace it with something like ‘initiated by’ — a credit that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. I still told them that if the film is indeed original, I’ll happily withdraw the credit, but somehow the promos don’t tell me so. I asked them to show me the film and they fell silent.

Soon, they started doing media promotions for the film, and kept me completely out of it (you’ll never find me in an interview with them). Crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that 3 Idiots is not based on Five Point Someone. Ten days before the release, I was called into their office. They said ‘we should be friends now’. I said I am always up for friendship, and the success of the film is good for me as well. They also said, and I quote verbatim ‘even though this is an original film, we have given you a great credit, right upfront. After all, we love writers and a king should treat another king with respect. You are family’. I believed them.

Then I went for the premiere. My family sat in the theatre shocked, as sequence after sequence came from the book. Two per cent means three minutes or so, and I had told my family to look for the few FPS moments and note them. However, there were so many that it became impossible to keep track. The plot was same — people meet at ragging, the first class with definition of machine, the friends separate, Alok (Raju) moves with Venkat (Chatur), Ryan (Rancho) helps Alok’s father, Alok rejoins group, etc, etc. From Alok  (Raju) jumping to stealing the papers and calling out from Cherian (Virus’) office — the book came alive on screen.

However, my family had not spotted my credit in the beginning (there was none) and they were feeling let down. A screenplay associate credit to VVC had a prominent upfront placement. The story credit was not shared with me. And yes, all the office talk of a ‘king treated like king’ was a white lie. I knew they had played with me, and that ‘based on a novel by’ credit, which they were legally bound to give would be hushed away at the end — with the clear intention of making sure people miss it. And indeed, it came after the junior artistes and still photographer of the movie. My mother missed seeing my name, and for that she cried after seeing the film. I told her it doesn’t matter, as people know FPS. But yes, that hurt me a lot.”

The Other Side
3 Idiots director Rajkumar Hirani, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopta and actor Aamir Khan preferred not to comment.

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