Madhur courts trouble

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By Hindustan Times

New Delhi, July 27 -- Small-time scriptwriter Surendra Tanwar is set to file a court case against filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar for copying one of his stories for his 2009 film, Jail. He claims that the film is based on Gunahon Ka Devta, a story that he registered with the Film Writers' Association (FWA) in 1999.

Says Tanwar, "Jail was to be made in 2003 with Madhur as director. One of the writers, Dilip Shukla, had picked up the story from me." Tanwar was formerly employed with Shukla as an assistant writer. He adds, "After Jail released in 2009, I was surprised to see the similarities with my story. So, I filed a complaint with FWA."

On receiving the complaint, the Disputes Settlement Committee of FWA set up an enquiry. "At the hearing, Madhur stated that Jail was based on Hollywood films like Midnight Express (1978) and Shawshank Redemption (1994), which is untrue. Even Shukla lied to the body, saying that he didn't remember whether I had given him the script. The film's script-writer, Manoj Tyagi, also testified saying he and Madhur had written the script," states Tanwar. "After long deliberation, the committee concluded that the film was a copy of my script, but there was no evidence to prove it."

Documents obtained by HT prove that the FWA's final verdict mentions similarities between Jail, Gunahon Ka Devta, Midnight Express and Shawshank Redemption.

Imteyaz Hussain of the FWA says, "I don't remember the exact verdict, but everybody has the right to go to court." Madhur, when asked to comment, refused to speak about the controversy. But his line producer, Vinay Chaukar was more forthcoming, saying, "This is just a ploy by Tanwar to make money and get publicity out of the whole issue."