As 3 Idiots, the Hindi film with the biggest opening ever, entered a triumphant second week, the spat over who should get credit for its story turned into a live-on-national-TV fracas, as much mud-slinging as don’t-know-where-to-look farce.
Bestselling author Chetan Bhagat, who had sold the rights of his novel, Five Point Someone, for the film, wrote on Twitter — the microblogging platform on which a lot of this debate has been conducted — that he minded his not being acknowledged for the story.
“There should either be NO ‘Story’ credit for adapations (thus book automatically gets it) OR if its there, shd feature the author as well,” he tweeted. “They added a story credit right upfront, without my name, negating my contribution. THATS THE ISSUE.” (We’ve quoted verbatim.)
At a press meet in Mumbai, the film’s director, Rajkumar Hirani read out from the contract that Bhagat had signed with the film’s makers. “We legally purchased the rights of the novel, with complete authority to alter the text to suit the screen. We also have a clause on page 2 that mentions that Mr Bhagat’s credit would be in the end rolling credits…” he said.
Vinod Bhagat, expert on Intellectual Property Rights and Copyrights Act, said: “If both [Chetan Bhagat and the producer] have entered into a contract and if Chetan Bhagat has been paid, then there is no breach of contract. Complete rights rest with the producer.”
Trade analyst Amod Mehra said Chetan Bhagat — who said he was not taking the issue to court — was justified in demanding a more prominent credit. “Whether you like his writing or not, pushing him to the end of the credit titles is an insult.”
In the credits of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, based on Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A, the auhtor’s name appears after directors’ and producers’.
Producer, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who had on Friday asked a TV reporter to shut up, apologised for his behaviour.
The film, which grossed Rs 80 crore in its first week, continued to do well in its second week, said film critic Taran Adarsh. Madhu M, head of buying and merchandise, Landmark Bookstores, said Five Point Someone continues to be on the stores’ bestseller list.