Vishal Bhardwaj denies claims that Rangoon was plagiarised
Roy Wadia, of the production firm Wadia Movietone Pvt Ltd, claimed that Ranaut’s character in the film drew heavily from Fearless Nadia’s character in his 1935 film Hunterwalimumbai Updated: Feb 22, 2017 23:37 IST
Defending his upcoming Hindi film Rangoon — which is facing a legal battle over allegations of copyright infringement — writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj told the Bombay high court on Wednesday that the film’s script was original, the result of much hard work and several years of research steered by him and his team. He added that the allegations against him were baseless.
Bhardwaj’s counsel, senior advocate Ravi Kadam, said that even if one believes the allegations that actor Kangana Ranaut’s character in the film was inspired by yesteryear actor Fearless Nadia, allegations of copyright violation still do not hold water as Nadia was “a real person and a historical figure”. He said there cannot be copyright claims to a historical event or person.
He said that in a case such as this, the most a person can do is stake claims over ‘persona rights’. However, he added, since the current suit dwells only upon copyright and plagiarism, it must be dismissed.
The movie — slated to release this Friday — ran into trouble after Roy Wadia, of the production firm Wadia Movietone Pvt Ltd, filed a commercial suit earlier last week against Bhardwaj and others. Wadia claimed that Ranaut’s character in the film drew heavily from Fearless Nadia’s character in his 1935 film Hunterwali.
He added that Ranaut’s character dressed and posed like Nadia, and had even borrowed Nadia’s catchphrase “bloody hell”.
His plea states that Australian actor Nadia — also known as Mary Evans — was cast as the protagonist of Hunterwali by late film director-producer and co-founder of Wadia Movietone, Homi Wadia. The film made Nadia immensely popular. Wadia Movietone told the court that it holds the sole rights to scripts, posters and publicity material for Nadia’s films.
Movietone’s senior counsel Navroz Seervai added that back in 2005-06, his client had discussed a script based on Nadia’s biography with UTV — the producers of Rangoon. He said that though the project fell through, Bhardwaj seems to have lifted material from that script.
Kadam vehemently denied the allegation and said that even if UTV received that script, it had not reached Bhardwaj.
He said his the was a love triangle set during World War II. He added that he was “an award winning director and writer” and that he had roped in Oscar-nominated scriptwriter Matthew Robbins and author Amitav Ghosh to research the film.
“These allegations of plagiarism are defamatory, and are seeking publicity since they have been made just before the scheduled release of the film,” Kadam said.
The high court is likely to continue hearing arguments on Thursday.
First Published: Feb 22, 2017 23:36 IST