Ram Gopal Varma may have to come up with a new name for the character of Gabbar Singh in his remake of Sholay.
The producers of the original Sholay, Sippy Films Pvt Ltd, and Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, have sought an interim injunction from the Delhi High Court against the use of the names 'Sholay', 'Gabbar' and 'Gabbar Singh' by Verma and the production house K Sera Sera.
The court has served a notice on those involved in the making of the film.
The producers' petition claims the script and screenplay of Sholay are original literary works, protected under sections 14 and 51 of the Copyright Act of 1957. They maintain they have registered the three contentious names "under the statutory provisions of both the Copyright Act and the Trademark Act 1999".
It was widely reported that Varma, who began shooting Ram Gopal Varma ke Sholay earlier this month, had bought the rights to remake Sholay from Ajit Sippy -- the son of G.P. Sippy, producer of Sholay -- last year. But Sascha Sippy, director, Sippy Films, says: "Ajit did not have any rights to sell." He says notices were sent to all the defendants the moment the injunction was granted.
Varma has said his film has a different setting from the original Sholay and an amended name, making it bona fide.
But Sascha Sippy retorts, "Whether the titles are similar or different is for the court to decide. In any case the issue before the court is not restricted to the mere title, but extends to moral rights, characters' names and copyright."
The defendants named in the suit are K Sera Sera, its managing director PM Sanghvi, Varma, Madhu Varma, Ram Gopal Varma Productions, Varma Corporation and Ajit Sippy.
Asked about the notice, Varma said, "I have heard about it but it is not that I am making the same Sholay. I've given my film a contemporary look . It is set entirely in Mumbai, an urban area."
The reply to the notice has to be sent by November 20. Wonder if they will keep calling Amitabh Bachchan 'Gabbar Singh' on the sets of Varma's film till then.
(With inputs from Vajir Singh)