Are the writers really exploited in Bollywood?

  • Anirban Das, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 09, 2015 14:43 IST

Recently, writer Jyoti Kapoor filed a copyright infringement complaint against film-maker Kunal Kohli for allegedly stealing her idea for his film. On July 6, the Bombay High Court ordered an out-of-court settlement, and allowed Kohli to release his film.

Of late, there have been several instances of suchconfrontations between writers and film-makers in Bollywood. “I know a lot of writer friends who have faced issues with film-makers. I don’t understand why producers do not give them credit,” says writer Kapil Chopra, who had filed and won a copyright infringement case against the makers of Jannat 2 (2012) a few years back.

Matter of opinion
While writers continue to cry foul for not being acknowledged for their work, producers have a different opinion. “It is a wrong thing to say (that writers don’t get credit). Had that been the case, then writers like Rajat Arora, Himanshu Sharma, Juhi Chaturvedi and Anvita Dutt would not have been acknowledged. There are many writers entering the industry and producers are accepting them,” says producer Ramesh Taurani.

However, the Film Writers Association (FWA) wants to make the producers aware of the increasing cases of plagiarism. “It is very convenient for makers to say that writers are not facing issues with regards to being credited for their work. But every month, on an average, three to four cases of copyright infringement are filed at the FWA. Mostly, new writers face such issues. They are exploited and cheated by film-makers. There has been an increase in the number of cases over the last decade,” says Kamlesh Pandey, secretary, FWA.

Inside story
Talking about the repercussions of not crediting the writers, trade expert Vinod Mirani says, “It (the exploitation) has been happening for long, and that’s why the industry does not have too many good writers. They (film-makers) want to pay the stars, but not the writers.” Kapil adds, “Many writers are getting into film direction to earn money even when it is not their forte, since the industry does not encourage writers.”

But producers don’t buy this perspective. Film-maker Ramesh Sippy says, “The film industry is welcoming talented writers. There are many new ones, and they are doing great work. Bollywood is producing a lot of films based on fresh concepts, written by new and young talents.”

Case files
1. Om Shanti Om (2007): Writer Ajay Monga apparently took themakers of this film to court for lifting the plot from a script that he originally wrote.
2. Fashion (2008): A copyright infringement case was filed by Seema Seth against director Madhur Bhandarkar as the film was reportedly a copy of her book, titled Eldorado.
3. Ra.One (2011): Writer Yash Patnaik took Shah Rukh Khan to court for apparently plagiarising the former’s story.
4. Jannat 2 (2012): Writer Kapil Chopra sued the makers of the Emraan Hashmi-starrer for copyright violation.
5. Desi Boyz (2011): When writer Shyam Devkatte discovered that his story was beingused to make the film without his knowledge, he lodged a complaint against the makers of the movie.

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