Mumbai: Scriptwriter Juhi Chaturvedi of "Gulabo Sitabo" has been accused of plagiarism, ahead of the films much-hyped premiere on OTT. A police complaint has been filed and a legal notice has also been sent to the makers, who have, however, dismissed the charges as "baseless allegations" made to "create unnecessary controversy".
The plagiarism accusation has been levelled by Akira Agarwal, son of late writer Rajeev Agarwal. It has been claimed that Rajeev Agarwal had submitted a story titled "16 Mohandas Lane" in a contest 'Cinestaan India's Storyteller Script Contest' where Chaturvedi was a jury member.
According to the legal notice, Agarwal had submitted his story in the month March 2018 and his entry had subsequently been shortlisted. On June 28, 2018, the final script of the story was also submitted for the contest and all jury members had full access to the same.
The legal notice was sent by advocate Rizwan Siddiquee on behalf of Akira Agarwal to the makers of "Gulabo Sitabo", with the demand to see the film's complete script. Akira Agarwal has also filed a complaint at Mumbai's Juhu Police Station in this regard. Alleging that the story of "Gulabo Sitabo", its background and theme resemble "16 Mohandas Lane".
In the complaint, it has been stated that Akira Agarwal has also approached the Screenwriters Association (SWA) for mediation.
"The association asked Chaturvedi to submit her script. However, she failed to submit her script and denied that she ever had access to the script. The Screenwriters Association yet sought to support Chaturvedi by claiming that there is no infringement. Akira then approached Siddiquee for help and guidance," it read, pointing out that Chaturvedi had been requested to submit her script and story for verification, which she didn't do.
Now, a police complaint for cheating, criminal breach of trust and copyright infringement has been filed, and the police have been requested to seize the infringed copy of the work from the office of the producers.
Meanwhile, the film's production house Rising Sun Films has issued an official statement, calling out the inaccurate copyright claims.
"To begin with, Juhi's concept for the film was registered in 2018, much before the contest. Furthermore, Juhi never received a copy of the supposedly copied script. This has been independently confirmed by the scriptwriting contest organisers as well. Lastly, our film's story is different from that sent out in the notice. It is surprising how grave allegations are being made solely on the basis of a two-minute, 41 second trailer," read the statement from the producers.
"On May 29th, SWA ruled in favour of Juhi. Clearly the allegers are upset as the SWA decision didn't go in their favour. Releasing the notice to the press, harassing us on social media, seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign Juhi and damage the film. We have full faith in our film. At this time, when we have taken the bold decision to release the film on OTT, these baseless allegations only create unnecessary controversy. We request the press to stand by us and condemn the behavior of these allegers and their lawyer for resorting to such tactics only for press, limelight and ulterior motives," added the statement.
Shoojit Sircar's comedy "Gulabo Sitabo" casts Amitabh Bachchan as Mirza, landlord of an old dilapidated 'haveli' in the heart of Lucknow, named Fatima Mahal, while Ayushmann Khurrana plays is his shrewd tenant, Baankey.
The film is produced by Ronnie Lahiri and Sheel Kumar, and is set to premiere worldwide on June 12 on Amazon Prime Video.