Painter-author Aabid Surti has filed a case against the makers of the film, Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? (2010) in the Bombay High Court. The 75-year-old claims that the comedy film’s story has been entirely copied from his book, Bahattar Saal Ka Bachcha, which was first published in 1975. The film was distributed and produced by Warner Bros Pictures and Kumar Mangat’s Wide Frame Pictures last March. Interestingly, Surti has been fighting the case in the Film Writers’ Association for the last one-and-a-half year.
“The Film Writers’ Association has two bodies that take decisions on matters related to plagiarism,” explains Surti, adding, “After six months, the Dispute Settlement Committee declared that the story-screenplay are not even inspired by my book. The next hearing at the Appellate Board, took another six months, but they ruled in my favour.” In one of its earlier sittings, Mangat and Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge’s director-writer Ashwini Dhir and screenplay writer Robin Bhat had stated that the similarities between the book and movie were mere coincidences.
The Appellate Board objected to this statement and ruled that the film was indeed a copy and that Surti should be compensated. But the producers only agreed to formally apologise. “After that I had no option but to go to court,” says Surti, whose lawsuit states that he should be compensated with R 1 crore. “I know the battle will be tough, but I can fight for as long as it takes to get due credit for my work.”
Mangat, meanwhile, in his defence claims that the storyline originated from a different source altogether. “The story for Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? has been taken from the late Sharad Joshi’s family. Surti can say whatever he wants to. He’s just doing this for publicity,” says Mangat. Warner representatives refused to comment on the issue as they are waiting to hear from their legal team in Los Angeles, USA.