A Bengaluru court has ordered a temporary injunction against Indian fiction writer Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling novel One Indian Girl for allegedly plagiarising a short story by another author.
The order was passed on April 19, based on a complaint by Bengaluru-based writer Anvita Bajpai, who has alleged that Bhagat plagiarised from her book Life, Odds & Ends.
Bhagat, whose novels have been adapted as Bollywood films, was not available for comments but described the allegations as “unthinkable” in a Facebook post. Bhagat said the legal notice was deeply unfortunate.
“Today, I learnt that someone called Anvita Bajpai has filed a case in the Bangalore lower court and got a temporary injunction stating something about One Indian Girl based on her already published work,” he said.
“This is for one an absolute surprise for me as I have never read any of this author’s works. My stories are always original — including One Indian Girl — and it is unthinkable for me to do anything like what is suggested. Surely, alleging anything like this in the current digital age is strange.”
Bhagat said in the post that he writes “universal stories about everyday issues”.
“This could be a misunderstanding and am sure will be clarified as what is being suggested is baseless. My publisher’s legal team will be taking appropriate steps. My readers’ trust is most valuable to me and I will never, ever compromise that,” Bhagat added.
However, Bajpai said she gave Bhagat the book to review in 2014, when they met at the Bengaluru Lit Fest. Bajpai has claimed that Bhagat’s book is based on a short story titled ‘Drawing Parallels’ from her book.
“At the BLF, I spoke to many prominent authors asking them if they would review my book, as it was my first, and Bhagat was one among them. At the time, he said he would go through the book and let me know,” she told HT.
When she mailed him a year later in September 2015 asking him if he would review, Bhagat allegedly did not respond.
A year later she started seeing reviews of Bhagat’s book and realised that it seemed very familiar. “I decided to read the book and I was disturbed with the similarities with my story,” Bajpai said.
Bajpai, a researcher and technology constultant for start-ups, said the decision to send a legal notice was a difficult one. “Writing is not my primary source of employment and I was wondering if it would be worth my while to get involved in legal matters,” she said.
She said, a feeling that she would not be able to forgive herself if she did not fight for her book convinced her that she had to fight. “A book is after all like a child,” she said.
After consulting her lawyer and her publisher, LiFi publishers, Bajpai sent Bhagat a legal notice on February 22.
“In his reply, Bhagat said he had no access to my story, which was not true. So we decided to approach the courts,” Bajpai said.
Bhagat was earlier accused of portraying members of the erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihar as alcoholics and gamblers in his bestselling novel ‘Half Girlfriend’.
The scion of the family had also slapped a Rs 1 crore defamation suit on the author.
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