Bollywood producers sparring over film titles is not new, but the latest tiff between Pooja Bhatt and Vipul Shah seems to have exposed a bigger issue — the lack of transparency in the functioning of the film associations with which makers register their titles.
Vipul’s upcoming film with Akshay Kumar, Holiday — A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, has not gone down well with Pooja, who made a film of the same title (Holiday) in 2006.
"To make a film, you have to register your title with one of the many associations and pay them every year to re-register your title. I registered the name, Holiday, with the Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), and made the film in 2006. Vipul (Shah), after facing rejection from IFTPC, registered the same name with the Indian Motion Pictures’ Producers Association (IMPPA). So then, what’s the point of me paying money every year to protect my title?" questions Pooja.
I am paying money to register my title, and still it’s stolen from under my nose! This is extortion, says Pooja Bhatt, film-maker
While some industry insiders call the title registration process a "money-making racket". others are astounded by the lack of accountability from the associations that get "paid" to protect their titles.
Trade analyst Atul Mohan agrees that the associations often do not coordinate with each other. "There is miscommunication, and due to these loopholes, producers end up in a feud over the same title," explains Mohan.
Another prominent film-maker, on condition of anonymity shares, "It is a racket. If I apply for a title, I am not sure whether I will get it or not."
Film-maker Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, feels that the solution lies in creating an open process online, while agreeing that producers holding on to titles is the biggest problem.
Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha in a still from Holiday.
"Film-makers who haven’t made a film in a decade are sitting on 40-50 titles. Title registration has become a money-making racket:," says Mukesh Bhatt, president, Film and Television Producers Guild of India.
OTHER TITLE TROUBLES
Film-maker Mukul Abhyankar recently accused Sanjay Leela Bhansali for allegedly stealing his title, Ram Leela, while Anurag Kashyap and Kabir Sadanand’s tiff over similar- sounding film names, Ugly and Fugly, has also been reported.
Warner Bros recently gave Action Jackson makers a 48-hour notice to change the title as a Hollywood film by the same name was made in 1988.
Rambo Rajkumar’s (2013) title changed to R...Rajkumar as the makers of the original Rambo series objected to the name Rambo.