An idea, especially one based on historical facts, can’t be subject to copyright and similarities are bound to occur when films are made on legendary figures, ruled the Bombay high court on Thursday, dismissing an injunction plea that had sought a stay on the release of the Hindi film Manjhi.
“Copyright in such cases is confined to the expression of the idea by the author. Where the same idea is being developed from a common source similarities are bound to occur. However, if the same work is presented differently so that the subsequent work becomes a completely new work, no question of violation of copyright arises,” said justice Gautam Patel.
Justice Patel was hearing a suit filed against director Ketan Mehta whose film Manjhi is scheduled to release on Friday.
The suit was filed on August 1 this year by producer and distributor Narendra Mohan Singh, who had alleged that Mehta had plagiarised the script of his movie. Singh had claimed that he was slated to produce a film on the life of Dashrath Manjhi, a man from Bihar, who chiselled and broke down a mountain to carve out a road. He claimed that a scriptwriter and director Manish Jha had approached him with a basic script for the same in 2007.
However, one of Jha’s acquaintances, Mahendra Jakhar, who was also a party in the case, leaked the script of the movie to Mehta, Singh told the court.
Mehta on the other hand denied all charges. He and Jakhar, who is the co-scriptwriter for Mehta’s movie on Manjhi, submitted before HC that their script is different from that of Singh’s movie.
Mehta also submitted that while Singh had sent him a legal notice over the same issue back in 2012 and that he had responded to it, considering that his movie is slated for release this Friday, he has been dragged to court for publicity.
After hearing the arguments of both the sides, justice Patel went through the two rival scripts and also watched Mehta’s movie. Based on the same, he ruled that while Singh’s script was extremely “rudimentary with little visualisation and dialogue,” Mehta’s was “much more substantial and differed from Singh’s markedly.”
* The suit filed on August 1 against filmmaker Ketan Mehta in the Bombay high court on August 1 alleged that Mehta had plagiarised the script for the movie Manjhi
* Singh claimed that he was slated to produce a film on the life of Dashrath Manjhi, a man from Bihar, who chiselled and broke down a mountain to carve out a road
* Singh claims that he even spoke to Manjhi’s family about the same and zeroed in on director Manish Jha to direct the film
* But, one of Jha’s acquaintances, Mahendra Jakhar, who is also a party in the case, leaked the script of the movie to Mehta, he has told the Bombay high court.