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Guest Post: Bollywood continues to battle over scripts


Tania Sarcar, a student at NUJS who has regularly guest blogged for us on the IP battles dogging Bollywood, over here and here, has sent us another post on a new dispute – this time over the movie Jail.

IP squabble over ‘Jail’
By Tania Sarcar

Another case involving the Film Writers’ Association has come to the forefront. This time it is in regard to Madhur Bhandarkar’s 2009 film – Jail. Surendra Tanwar, who is a scriptwriter, is set to file a court case against Madhur Bhandarkar for copying one of his stories for his film without his permission or knowledge. Tanwar claims that Jail is based on Gunahon ka Devta, a story that he registered with the Film Writer’s Association way back in 1999. (Available over here)

Tanwar also says that when he worked for Dilip Shukla, who is one of the writers of the film, previously as an assiatant writer, Shukla had picked up the story to be made into a film in 2003. After Jail was released in 2009, Tanwar noted the similarities of the film’s story to his story and filed a complaint with the Film Writer’s Association. (FWA)

As discussed earlier in a post, the Film Writer’s Association functions as a trade union and strives to protect the rights of its member-writers and has two bodies under it, namely, the Dispute Settlement Committee (DSC) and the Appellate Board.

On receiving the complaint, the DSC, set up an enquiry. Madhur Bhandarkar claimed that his film is inspired from Hollywood movies like Midnight Express and Shawshank Redemption. Shukla told the DSC that he did not remember whether he was given the script of Gunahon ka Devta or not. It was also testified by the scriptwriter of the movie, Manoj Tyagi, that he had written the script along with Bhandarkar. The final verdict of the FWA, as per documents obtained by Hindustan Times, says that the film has similarities with Gunahon ka Devta, Midnight Express and Shawshank Redemption.

Tanwar, as is usual in such cases, was accused of doing all these for publicity by the line producer, Vinay Chaukar.

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Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

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