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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He sold his house to fund his dream project, now he is in talks with UTV to sell its rights…Theatre artiste Paresh Mokashi, director of India’s Oscar entry Harishchandrachi Factory, on turning passion into action
By Vishwas Kulkarni (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 22, 2009)

Mokashi standing in the centre with his team; (below) a still from the film

For 40-year-old Paresh Mokashi, it has been a long journey to acclaim and a filmic vehicle finding a shelter — currently it is the modest office of Indian Magic Eye Pvt. Ltd at Matunga that is managing Harishchandrachi Factory. Yet, in 2005, when he first discovered the enigma of Dadasaheb Phalke, India’s first filmmaker who produced Raja Harishchandra in 1913, little did he know that it would take him through a rollercoaster ride of despair and unending hope and eventual acclaim. The film has beaten some Bollywood biggies to become India’s official entry to the Oscars.

“I had not worked as an assistant director with some hot shot Bollywood film director, as is the norm to climb the ladder in tinsel town. I was an autodidact who had imbibed whatever I could from World Cinema DVDs. And then there was the fascinating story of the legend himself. The more I read up on him, the more charged up I got.”

So fired up was Mokashi with the man that he wrote his screenplay in 15 days. Then came the tough part: getting the cash to produce this. “I was done with my screenplay in early 2005. By the end of 2008, I was hadn’t found a financier. Soon we began to hear of people doing projects with Dadasaheb Phalke as the subject. I felt a compulsive sense of entitlement given that I had been so impassioned by the man. So I decided to take my fate in my own hands.”

Mokashi sold his flat to finance the film, but he is quick to dismiss this as a cliché that has been plaguing him.

“Please let’s not talk about this; it’s become the only factor that the Press goes on about, and a lot of salient features about this amazing product are lost in the haze of this gamble. More importantly, it was a friendly deal with a colleague of mine,” he says.

The production did indeed begin after finances had been secured and the film officially began. “I think to follow your dreams you have to take that plunge. Or it never happens. My cast and crew followed me blindly. It was so wonderful to see that level of trust. At 3.5 crores, it’s the most expensive Marathi film ever made. That we haven’t cut corners comes across. For instance, we had a five-day schedule in London, where Phalke went to buy a Williamson camera. The historical dockyard of Chatham was opened for the first time for a film shoot for our film!” says Mokashi.

Thus over an eight-month schedule the film was produced, and its makers are presently in talks with UTV over a possible acquisition deal.

For actor Nandu Madhav, conjuring an idea of playing the filmic pioneer turned out to be quite a blast. “I needed references to the body language of the times, of the man himself. When Dadasaheb Phalke first started to test his camera, he got his wife to shoot him. So I had these experimental film clippings where Dadasaheb Phalke was posing and pretending to act! It was fantastic reference material. Then there was the question of language itself, which at the turn of the century is somewhat different from the Marathi we speak today. There were terms, for instance, such as ‘Eh heh ray!’ that are not in use anymore.”

For lead actress Vibhawari Deshpande, who essayed the role of Saraswatibai Phalke, it proved to be a postmodern exercise in feminism itself. “The character I was playing was extremely simple, extremely real. But she was a pioneering prototype of modernity, well before the idea of a ‘modern’ Indian woman had emerged. The experience was nothing short of electric. Here was a woman taking up the camera in 1912. Coming from theatre, with over 15 years of stage expertise and three Marathi films behind her, did help.

But what helped most was Paresh Mokashi’s passion. We’ve all known each other’s struggles for over a decade. So this film was not a regular film; there was a lot at stake for all of us. It was a collective enterprise that had a rare camaraderie and a cosmic magic attached to it from the word go. I had to give it my all.” Did she shoot in London? “I missed that foreign outdoors number. But you see, when Dadasaheb Phalke went to England to acquire that camera, Saraswatibai was nine months pregnant. It would have been shamelessly inauthentic for me to pull that off!”

Firoz Nadiadwala has purchased the rights to remake The Hangover in Hindi
By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 27, 2009)

Katrina Kaif

Firoz Nadiadwala has purchased the rights of Hangover—the much talked about film. It will be directed by Firoz’s favourite director Anees Bazmee. In the comedy, four men travel to Las Vegas for a 24 hour stag party.

They wake up with the worst hangover and find that the groom is missing, as they try to recall the details of the debauched night.

A source said, “Firozbhai loved the script and the film and immediately got into the process of acquiring the Hindi rights of the film. In fact, he has also been casting for the film on the sly. Abhishek Bachchan will play the role played by Bradley Cooper and Paresh Rawal will step into the shoes of Zach Galifianakis.

Katrina Kaif will play the role of the fiancée. The film will start early next year.”

While Firoz Nadiadwala remained noncommittal, director Anees Bazmee confirmed the news. Anees said, “It’s true. I am shooting in South Africa and Sanjay Dutt and I have been discussing the film.

I loved the film and Sanjay is very eager to do it too. Even Ritesh Deshmukh and Abhishek Bachchan have been finalised. I am shooting No Problem in Durban, once I am free of that, I will start scripting the film.”


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