The Bajrangi Bhaijaan Lawsuit

(Edit: We would like to thank Mr. Manish Singhal, for sending us a copy of the Court order, available here. The order copy we received only directs one of the defendants, Star India Pvt Ltd. to maintain accounts and not all the other parties, as reported in the media. We would be grateful if one of our readers could shed light on the discrepancies between the media reports and this court order. Has there been another additional order in this case?)

bbBajrangi Bhaijaan made all the right noises at the box office a few months ago, when it was declared a multicrore hit, crossing the 100 crore mark. However, it is now in the news with respect to another multi crore figure- a Rs 50 crore copyright infringement suit has been filed against it in the Bombay High Court.

The suit has been filed by Mahim Joshi, a writer, director and television producer. Mr. Joshi claims that he had registered a story with Indian Film and Television Producers Council and the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers in July, 2007. In 2008, he entered into a five year exclusive contract with Yash Multi Media for a film deal. However, nothing materialized in those five years and Mr. Joshi approached another production company, Viacom 18. Mr. Joshi states that Parveez Shaikh, who has been co-credited for the screenplay of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, was associated with Viacom as an employee. During the period of the deal with YMM, Mr. Joshi had hired a team to search for locations. The suit claims that the video clips of these locations resemble those in the movie. Therefore, Mr. Joshi claims that the screenplay of the movie infringed on his copyright in the story, by blatantly copying the same. Moreover, there are similarities between the movie scenes and the location shots done by Mr. Joshi.

Media reports state that the Bombay High Court, on a detailed comparison of movie’s scenes and the video clips taken by Mr. Joshi, stated that there was similarity between the two and that the suit was a ‘passionate plaint’. Although the Bombay High Court did not grant an injunction on the television premiere of the movie, it has directed all parties, including producers Rockline Venkatesh, Rajessh Bhatt and Salman Khan, a co-producer, writer KV Vijayendra Prasad and director Kabir Khan, to maintain accounts of business with respect to the movie till the adjudication on the matter is completed. (Edit: The order copy we received only directs one of the defendants Star India Pvt. Ltd to maintain accounts) All the respondents have been asked to file replies by the coming Wednesday (Oct 21). The next hearing of the matter is on October 28.

Bollywood, as ever, seems to be rife with intellectual property issues.We will keep you posted with updates on the same!

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