On December 28, HT City broke the story that author Chetan Bhagat felt cheated by the makers of the superhit movie 3 Idiots. The author felt he wasn’t given appropriate credit in the film, even though the movie was based on his bestseller Five Point Someone. What followed was a war of words between the author and the film’s producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, with the latter even shouting at journalists who dared to ask him about the controversy. Now, actor Aamir Khan has jumped to the defense of the film’s makers and the daggers are clearly drawn. The film’s scriptwriter, Abhijat Joshi, meanwhile, has threatened to sue Bhagat over the matter.
Talking to the media on January 1, Aamir said, “The truth, which is not known to anyone, is that I met Chetan Bhagat for the first time three months ago in Bangalore. When I expressed my desire to read his book, he said, ‘Aamir, don’t read it. The script and the book are completely different.’ Usne mujhe kaha ki script aur book mein zameen aasman ka difference hai. But today, he has come forth to cash in on the success of the film. Please understand who is playing what game.”
Talking to HT City from Mumbai, Bhagat retorts, calling Aamir a “hired ambassador” to the Chopras. “I would like to say just one thing to Aamir — please first read the book and then utter a word. My book is in simple English. How hard is it to understand? He has all the time to comment and defend people, can’t he read the book? I had asked Aamir to stay out of this hundred times, yet he has not. So I will say that he is just behaving like a brand ambassador who is sold out to the Chopras. He has no credibility on the issue.”
Aamir says, “Three months ago he said something else and today, because the film is successful, he’s saying something else. He is using the media and 3 Idiots for publicity. Voh publicity ka bhookha hai, and he’s employing these ways to gain undue publicity from the film. Had I been the authority in this case, I would’ve taken legal action against him (Bhagat).” However, Bhagat is unpeturbed, “I have consulted my lawyers and they have said, ‘please let them take you to court. You will also win royalty from the film’. So, please take me to court. Make me rich.”
Chopra, meanwhile, has uploaded the contract with Bhagat on his website. While the contract says due credit will be given to Bhagat, it does not specify prominence. Curiously, filmmakers like Pritish Nandy are backing Bhagat. “It is coarse and rude to say that Chetan has been paid. Writers don’t only work for money. They work for self esteem too.”