Fenil and Bollywood

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‘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.

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WHO AM I? Shah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan


Shah Rukh Khan speaks exclusively to BT about his role in the biggest film of his career

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 29, 2009)

Shah Rukh Khan, the pains and failures of 2009 behind him if not entirely forgotten, is looking forward to the New Year because it brings with it the imminent release and promise of the biggest film of his career (his words, not mine) – Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan. He’s had a bad year starting with the shoulder injury and surgery, then the uninspiring box-office returns for Billu – his only release in 2009, and finally the humiliating decimation of his IPL team in South Africa. But, as the poet T. S. Eliot famously wrote, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”… and SRK, suspect, is secretly hoping that the next voice cinema audiences will listen to is going to be his in 2010. Or rather Rizwan Khan’s, the autistic character he plays in My Name Is Khan, which is slated for a grand bi-lingual worldwide release in February. Actually, the character in this ambitious film suffers from asperger’s syndrome, an autistic disorder whose main symptom is a difficulty in social interaction. It is a role that Shah Rukh, who is notoriously among Bollywood’s least social people, must have slipped into with consummate ease. Over a glass of tea in his vanity van one night late at Mehboob Studios, I asked him whether audiences were ready for another challenged hero after Bachchan with progeria in Paa and, before that, Aamir with dyslexia in Taare Zameen Par. Shah Rukh replied, “Audiences understand what you tell them. People like a good story. And this is a joyous film with a new romantic thought, the journey of an ordinary man. It is a love story with an epic feel. All love stories have obstacles, but the obstacle in My Name Is Khan is real, it happens in everyday life. For me, the film was an opportunity to play a challenged character… bahut maaza aaya!” What he was saying was contrary to public belief that the film is based on terrorism. Shah Rukh scowled. “I don’t know where you got that idea,” he said in exasperation, “yes, it is set in the aftermath of 9/11, and it is heroic without the fighting and screaming, but My Name Is Khan is a heartening and even funny film… even though we didn’t try to make a funny film! I am excited about it as I am about all my films. But this one I’m very proud of. Mainly because I’ve co-produced it with Karan. Also because Kajol and I are acting together after eight years.” He’s not seen a trial of the film as yet to voice an opinion on how well it will do at the box-office. That Shah Rukh never does. Not for his own films nor anybody else’s. In fact, he said he’s hardly seen any of his films completely. “Trials mean analysis,” he explained, “but trial reactions are different from theatre reactions. I don’t make a film for myself, I make it for the story. Besides, I’m shy of myself on screen, I’m not vain, it’s just that I’m not fond of my face or physique. Maybe that’s why I’m an actor – so that I can play someone else.”
Perhaps, he was still in character for the film. Or, maybe, interacting with people is as much a problem for Shah Rukh Khan in real life as it is for Rizwan Khan in reel. “I’m not antisocial,” he protested, “I’m a quiet person, strangely reclusive, I’m not as confident as you think I am. I have issues. I’m thankful to Allah… to be not so gifted and have all this. It may sound pompous, but I’m great enough to be humble, I’m very happy when people say ‘SRK’s the best’… there is a sense of achievement, I’m happy by what I’ve done, but humble enough to know it’s not because of me. Yet put me on stage, say, at Salt Lake Stadium before a million people and I will comfortably entertain you for an hour. As long as I’m an entertainer, I have no problems. It’s when I’m Shah Rukh Khan that the problems arise. I’m a fun guy… yet my kids enjoy their mother’s company more.”

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