SpicyIP Tidbit: Latest on the 3 Idiots Controversy

In two posts earlier, we have blogged on the 3 Idiots controversy between Chetan Bhagat on the one hand, and Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir Khan on the other, which has grabbed the attention of the mainstream media thanks to Chopra’s outburst at a press conference at the Radisson in Noida yesterday.
Earlier in the day today, after Chopra apologised to the media for his appalling behaviour, Rajkumar Hirani held a press conference citing the credits clause in the contract between Chetan and Chopra and said the movie makers had fulfilled their obligations under the contract. Hirani reiterated his stance that not more than 5% of the movie is based on Chetan’s book. Now that this appears to be the formal position of the makers of the movie, and not something said in the heat of the moment, Chetan can decide on his formal course of action in the matter.
We would like to remind our readers to take part in the opinion poll we have put up on this controversy.


  1. Anonymous

    out of ignorance i ask this..does it really matter what they say in the press conference about percentages…it is surely debatable…i personally don’t agree with either 5 or 70%…and infact when Chetan says it is a complete adaptation, i am sorry i find that laughable….personally loved the movie and abhorred the book (so maybe my opinion i s slightly colored here…and trust me I am a big time book lover who thinks most adaptations don’t do any justice to the written word)…and for the legalese…i believe the credit line does say that it is ‘ Based on the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat’..even Chetan acknowledges that…( as to the debate as to where it was placed..sorry terms of the contract rule..infact there is no allegation as to lack/inadequacy of lack of consideration )i feel this book is what u call a true ‘inspiration’ behind the story than a literal adaptation…i think what has happened here is that one of the most brilliant and business -savvy minds (Chetan)has made a bad judgment call when he negotiated the terms of the contract..i am not blaming his lawyer here coz i expect this IIT_IIM A combo to have looked at the returns on his investment clause a bit more closely and seriously there can’t b any right to paternity issue here as his contribution is being acknowledged in the credit line and definitely no argument exists on the right to integrity issue as even Chetan by admitting to wanting be recognised as the person behind the story admits that this is one movie that is going to bag atleast a few awards :)..and i don’t think judges are going to fully buy the ‘poor author who got cheated by producer’s argument’..i mean after all we r talking abt a very popular, famous author who was even a columnist in one of india’s popular national dailies…and i can’t believe he was ever in a weak negotiating position here..he could have easily sold the rights of his book to any production house…infact i believe the whole controversy would have had a bit more transparency and genuiness if he had raised his dissent publicly before the movie became the success story it is..btw if i hadn’t known better i would say this is a wonderful marketing strategy for the book…just because it is a best seller doesn’t mean that one can’t have a fresh marketing gimmick, right?…and i don’t think more sales is going to hurt either

  2. Divs

    @ anon.. i completely agree… i too dont view of this controversy any more than a “leap-my-book-sales” act..

    I agree with you on another count… dint like the book and that most adaptations trash the book.. for instance to kill a mocking bird, ayn rand’s fountain head etc are not even 50% of the original books. I think jurrasic park and lost world were an exception- adding charm to crichton;s writings.. thanks to spielberg’s genius!

    Plus wen i read FPS… i thought it tried to ape the amazing Salinger best seller “Catcher in the Rye”.. very horribly done so…

    Anyway.. as for now.. i havent seen 3i.. i wonder if i will. i walked to the ticket counter at PVR wondering if i should spend my moolah on it… however.. i was quite ok that to my luck (or misfortune??).. it was houseful and I ended up gracing the latest Vinay pathak flick!!!

  3. Anonymous

    i concur that this mud slinging in the media glare has certainly boosted the sales of the book further.doesnt matter if chetan cudnt negotiate it shud suffice that he has become famous even amongst the non reading masses.

  4. Ayan Roy Chowdhury

    I think the contract is clear that the Producer shall have the adaptation rights and what percentage he adapts is immaterial if not specified (which is not specified anyway).
    Again it doesnot matter whether people have missed the credit since it was categorically agreed that credit would be “rolling credits” meaning at the end of the film. If he did not understand what rolling credits mean then it is his fault not to have consulted lawyers while signing.

    The contract, undoubtedly is shabby and one sided, but legally correct.

    Amar Nath Sehgal case also cannot be applied as “rolling credits” doesnot mean keeping out of public eye. It is different that Indian audience is not patient enough to read these credits.

    I don’t understand why Section 57 of Copyright should be applicable when the author has given the adaptation right to the Producer “in any manner”.

    Again, understandable that Chetan felt bad about the Producers’ arrogance and left out in the promotions but there is nothing in the agreement which gives him the right to be part of the promotions either.

    There is nothing in the copyright act or any legislation which makes mandatory the way the credits are given.

    I think Chetan thought that since he understands English language better than most he also understands law and without paying any lawyer or may be having paid some small time lawyer, he blindly signed the agreement given by the producers and have missed out as to what “rolling credits” actually mean only to find it out in the film. Even if he would have been given the script, there is hardly anything he could have done against the producers because he has agreed his book to be adapted for the film script.


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