The Bombay high court rejected a plea seeking a restraint on the release of the upcoming Hindi movie, Mohenjo Daro last week. The court imposed a fine of Rs 1.50 lakh on Akashaditya Lama, who approached the court claiming infringement of his script and the title ‘Mohenjo Daro’, by the producers and directors of the Hrithik Roshan and Pooja Hegde-starrer periodic drama.
Lama said he is a professional writer, director and a member of the Film Writers Association since 2003. He said that as a student in Gwalior in 1995, he came up with the idea of writing a fictional account of the Indus Valley civilization, while doing a theatre workshop at the National School of Drama. He wrote a love story based on his parents’ life and marriage. He said that the story, which deals with conflicts between cultures, communities and ideas, was called ‘Mohenjo Daro’. He added that he developed it over several years and subsequently registered it as ‘Saamrajya’. He said Ashutosh Gowarikar’s production had the same setting.
Gowarikar said he developed the script and movie after long years of research and discussion with experts. He added that the so-called 1995 document written by Lama was “reverse engineered” only for the purpose of this suit, after Lama saw the trailer of this upcoming movie, , scheduled to be released on August 12.
Justice GS Patel found no substance in Lama’s claims. The judge rejected his plea for staying the release of the drama, noting discrepancies in his claims. “It seems to be little more than a concept note, which is, in my view, incapable of being treated as protected under the Copyright Act,” the judge said.
“This case seems to have been registered only to gain mileage from the release of this film,” he added. The judge said that though Lama did in fact have stage productions set in Mohenjo Daro, it was doubtful whether these were enough to sustain a claim of infringement.