Ramesh Sippy faces setback: Bombay High Court allowed Production of Sholay in 3-D to continue

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Much like the evergreen appeal of the cult movie Sholay remains unabated despite the passage of time, so too the various contentions and litigations surrounding the rights relating to this movie refuse to die down. This latest debate has arisen in relation to the 3-D version of the movie that has been announced to be in pipeline some time back by Sasha, nephew of Ramesh Sippy.
Ramesh Sippy, who had directed the iconic blockbuster way back in 1975, had approached the court back on November, 2012, contending that he still possesses the rights over the movie and has not relinquished the same as claimed by Sasha. Thus without his permission, the 3-D version cannot be released.
However, on April 1, 2013, Justice S.J. Kathawalla of the Bombay High Court refused to grant a stay order on the production of the 3-D version as Ramesh Sippy had pleaded for. The Court said that Sippy was not entitled to grant of any relief before some of the preliminary issues raised by Sasha and his partners had been addressed properly. Sippy is thus left with no other choice than to seek a stay order from a higher court if he wants to bring the production and subsequent release to a stop.
One of the arguments raised by Sasha’s legal counsel raises an interesting issue. It says that following the death of the directors who were involved in creating Sholay, all rights over the film stood vested in Sippy Films Pvt. Ltd. and the latter assigned the said rights by way of a gift deed to Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. in 2000. However, since Ramesh Sippy had resigned from Sippy Films 3 months before Sholay had been released, he did not have any claim to the rights relating to the movie. Moreover, since 2000, the Sholay Media and Entertainment has been commercially exploiting all the rights and Sasha’s counsels allege that Ramesh Sippy has never objected to the same, nor claimed to be the author/owner of copyrights over the movie.
Previously, the courtroom battles surrounding Sholay include a confrontation with Greenpeace for making an unauthorized animation with Sholay characters, against Vodafone (see here, here and here) over copyright infringement over Vodafone’s sale of music and dialogues from the movie as ringtones/caller-tunes, against Ram Gopal Verma for attempting to make a remake of the movie with the same name etc. One must make an observation that in all those disputes, Sholay Media and Entertainment had played the prominent role and not Ramesh Sippy, which may lend strength to Sasha’s argument to a certain extent.

Shouvik Kumar Guha

Shouvik Kumar Guha

Shouvik is at present employed as a Research Associate and a Teaching Assistant at The W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. He has obtained his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from NUJS itself and is also currently pursuing his LL.M. degree from the same university. From his very year at law school, he had been attracted towards the discipline of Intellectual Property and that interest has been kindled further in course of time. The interface between IP and other disciplines such as Economics, Anti-trust Law, Human Rights, World Trade Law and the technological developments relating thereto, has especially caught his attention since then. He’s authored several papers on issues relating to IP and other legal disciplines for journals, books, magazines and conferences in national as well as international levels. He is also currently co-heading an organization called Lexbiosis, which is an endeavor meant to facilitate the collaboration between the legal industry and academia.

One comment.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    Interesting Judgment. More than the Sippy family dispute, it appears to be a first judgment in India which has gone into the question of authorship and ownership in a cinematograph film under the Indian Copyright Act.


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