Priyadarshan's decision to remake Malayalam hit Manichitrathazhu has rattled Hyderabad-based director Narren Aditya, who claims the film is his baby.
"How can Priyadarshan remake Manichitrathazhu? This is something that happened without my knowledge and I regard it as a great betrayal," said Aditya, who claims that he did all the legwork to get the remake rights of the original.
Hyderabad-based producer KS Rama Rao of Creative Commercials purchased the rights of the Malayalam film from producer KS Appachan.
"I negotiated between Appachan and Rao. The producer of the original Malayalam film didn't even know Rao and I took the project to Mumbai. I've met Amitabh Bachchan for the lead role and he showed interest," Aditya told IANS.
"I made the Chandramukhi (the Tamil remake of Manichitrathazhu) project hot. Now because Rao has got extra money from T-Series, he has sold off the rights without my knowledge. This is not done! I'm planning to take legal action against Rao. He has betrayed not only a filmmaker like me but also a legend like Amitabh.
"How could Akshay insist on Priyadarshan when he knew I was going to direct Chandramukhi in Hindi? Since the project had gone to Amitabh through me, I was willing to pay the producer the money and buy out the remake rights. Now my career is affected. It's illegal, immoral and unethical," he added.
"What face do I show Amitabh? I believe T-Series and Priyadarshan want to make a typical comedy out of Chandramukhi. I was going to make it a refined classical aesthetic experience," he said.
Aditya is determined to go ahead with his own version. "My version of the screenplay has nothing to do with what these people are doing. And there's a lot of difference between Amitabh and Akshay."
Quizzed about the controversy, Bhushan Kumar of T-Series said: "Aditya has written to me with his grievances. I believe he was verbally committed to make the film with Rao. Because the producer got a good offer from us, he sold us the rights and we're making it with Priyadarshan.
"On what grounds will Aditya take legal action? Verbal commitments mean nothing in this industry. The Tamil version modified the Malayalam original to suit Rajnikant's image. We're doing the same to suit the image of the Akshay-Priyadarshan combo. Audiences do expect laughter from them. So we're adding a dash of comedy to the original. But it won't be an out-and-out comedy," he added.
Chandramukhi will be T-Series' first independent film.
"So far we've been doing joint ventures. This will be T-Series' first solo venture. It's a departure from whatever we've done so far, and also very different from the films being made these days. Initially we were trying for Aishwarya Rai for the female lead but she had date problems. So we opted for Vidya Balan," said Kumar.