‘October is way too similar to my film,’ says Sarika Mahesh Mene, maker of Aarti - The Unknown Love Story | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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‘October is way too similar to my film,’ says Sarika Mahesh Mene, maker of Aarti - The Unknown Love Story

Marathi filmmaker Sarika Mahesh Mene, the director of Aarti..., says that she is fighting for justice. Spokesperson for the producer of October shares that the makers are aware of the allegation and will soon respond.

bollywood Updated: Apr 21, 2018 11:51 IST
Shreya Mukherjee
Shreya Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Shoojit Sircar’s October (still on the left) has been accused of plagiarism. Director Sarika Mahesh Mene says that the film is a copy of her 2017 film Aarti the Unknown Love Story (poster on the right), based on incidents from the life of her brother, Sunny Pawar.
Shoojit Sircar’s October (still on the left) has been accused of plagiarism. Director Sarika Mahesh Mene says that the film is a copy of her 2017 film Aarti the Unknown Love Story (poster on the right), based on incidents from the life of her brother, Sunny Pawar.

Yet another Bollywood film runs into controversy. Filmmaker Sarika Mahesh Mene has alleged that Shoojit Sircar’s October, starring Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu, is a copy of her Marathi film, titled Aarti - The Unknown Love Story (2017). According to Sarika, she and her friend, award-winning documentary filmmaker Hemal Trivedi, were working on the Hindi adaptation of Aarti… Sarika has approached the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), and Screenwriters Association (SWA) about this.

“Aarti… is based on a real incident that happened with my brother, Sunny Pawar, and [his late girlfriend] Aarti Makwana. October is way too similar to their story and my film. I’m not saying all this without watching October. Obviously, they’ve added a few cosmetic changes, but how are the events, approach etc so similar? They start off showing a hotel where the characters are interns; my film starts with a newspaper office where Sunny and Aarti are interns. Then Shiuli falls from a terrace asking about Dan; in my film, Aarti, while on a trip with friends, is shown lost in thoughts and her friends point out that she was thinking about Sunny when the accident happened. Much like Shiuli’s mother asks Dan to concentrate on his work, Aarti’s mother says the same to Sunny — here, even the dialogues are similar,” says Sarika, pointing out the similarities. She adds, “I’ve approached SWA, IMPPA, and Marathi Kala Mandal, among others.”

It all started with Hemal’s Facebook post on April 18. She wrote: “...Shoojit Sircar stole Sarika Mene’s acclaimed Marathi film, Aarti – the unknown love story, to make October... Sircar has not just picked up the plot and the storyline, but has also blatantly copied the look and the moments from the original film. The filmmakers of October never acquired any rights to the Marathi film and they never contacted Sarika (the director)...” The post received mixed reactions.

Directors Sarika Mahesh Mene and Shoojit Sircar.

Urging everyone to watch both films and decide impartially, Sunny adds, “It’s really painful for us. We’ve nothing against anyone and respect Shoojit Sircar’s work; we just want the truth to be out. There are many YouTube videos where I’ve spoken about the incident, and [there are] a lot of newspaper articles highlighting our story.”

Sunny says that he was told by friends that October was similar to Aarti… He says, “While watching October I was expecting otherwise, but then it felt like reliving the incidents once again.”

SWA confirmed receiving the complaint from Sarika. They shared, “Sarika… approached the SWA on 11th of April, and met with our Legal Officer, Heema Shirvaikar, for advice. Heema suggested that she should watch the film, since it was releasing in two days, just to be doubly sure and come back with comparisons/similarities between the two films, which would fast-track her case and make it more concrete, since her [initial] complaint was merely based on the promotional trailer. Sarika came back after two days and filed a formal complaint, as she still felt that there were substantial similarities between her film and October. We’re looking into it. If we feel that this is something that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis, we’re willing to do that. Having said that, we need to follow the protocol.”

When we contacted Shoojit Sircar, he messaged us: “We have received a letter. And we will surely respond to the letter officially. And [after] which we [will] let you know our official statement.”

We also contacted the film’s producer, Rising Sun Films, and a spokesperson said, “We have received a letter and are in the process of responding to it. For now, we would not like to make any further comment.” There was no response to our calls and messages to Juhi Chaturvedi, the writer of October.

Interact with Shreya Mukherjee on Twitter/ @Shreya_MJ