Kanika Dhillon Vs Navjot Gulati: Battle over story credit accelerates in Bollywood
The feud between writer Kanika Dhillon and writer-director Navjot Gulati after his distasteful tweet over credit has stoked a debate around the missing uniformity while acknowledging talent, with the war of the writers turning into a war of credit system.
It all started earlier this week when Gulati tweeted, “If you want top billing as a Screenwriter in a trailer (something that should be the norm) You need to marry into the production house. Once the Writer becomes a family member, is treated like an Actor-Star. #Goals”, while referencing Dhillon getting a separate writer’s credit slate in the trailer of Haseen Dillruba.
Dhillon came forward to slam the “sexist and misogynist” remark, finding support from many celebs, including Taapsee Pannu, Aniruddha Guha and Bejoy Nambiar. But the conflict has opened a dialogue around the credit culture as well as sexism in Bollywood.
Why imply sleeping is the only way to success?
“I want to ask this gentleman who did he sleep with to get Jai Mummy Di credit?” questions Dhillon while slamming him for making a personal remark on her marriage with Himanshu Sharma, who has co-produced Haseen Dillruba.
On Gulati’s claim that his post was misunderstood, she fumes, “The message is not interpreted as sexist -- it is sexist! So when your sexism drenched brain will be able to see things for what they are -- maybe then we can have a reasonable discussion about it.”
She continues, “After being slammed, he will come up with silly excuses. This is a classic sexist behaviour. First, they will make a sexist remark, and then shrug it off as a joke. This man is the poster boy of sociopath sexist behaviour.”
The writer, also credited for films such as Manmarziyaan and Kedarnath, questions, “If he is telling me that getting married to someone is the way forward, I would request him to go and marry people from big production houses, and then see if he gets a credit. If he doesn’t get it even after marrying, he should come and apologise to me”.
Why make it gender war?
Meanwhile, Gulati is disturbed by the issue getting diverted and turned into a battle of the sexes.
“If my one quip makes me sexist, then everyone should look into the mirror. My main intention is that if one person is credited, then everyone should be credited,” he says.
With his remarks getting into the spotlight, the Ginny Weds Sunny writer hopes that the issue also gets some attention.
“If there is a matter which needs to become a national issue is -- why OTT platforms do not bother to give credit. If every writer starts getting credit after the row, I will openly apologise to Kanika Dhillon. If this is the output, I am happy to be called a villain,” he asserts.
If that is “turned into anything related to gender” then he is not willing to “stand back” and take all the blame.
“If I am making a joke out of it, shouldn’t we as a society have a sense of humour. Kanika has turned it into a war. In fact, If I get work after getting attention because of this fight, I will thank her,” says the writer.
When it comes to giving credit, it is a very subjective thing, says filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri.
“The writers should get credit. But the industry is a market place. When the writer’s contribution, name or credibility is not so high, then I don’t know if the producer will give them top billing or not,” he says.
To this, director Nambiar adds, “It is a welcome move and it should set a benchmark for others to do. Everyone should follow, but we don’t have a uniform system for this. The move will push the makers and platforms to recognise the need to do that”.
Filmmaker Jai Mehta also feels giving credit is important as it validates writers’ hard work, giving them “recognition, money and popularity”.
“And it is important to keep them motivated, which keeps them going,” he shares.