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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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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.


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