Karan Johar once said “as long as one can make viewers cry, one can go laughing all the way to the bank”. This seems to hold true for Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which has continuously been in news, be it for its emotional storyline or its stellar performance at the box-office. However, currently the buzz surrounding the movie is courtesy of the suit filed by Mahim Jayant Joshi (a writer, producer and director) against K. V. Vijayendra Prasad, among other defendants.
In 2007, Mahim Joshi had registered his story with Indian Film and Television Producers Council and the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers. Following this, he entered into a 5 year contract with Yashi Multi Media, a production house owned by Suresh Oberoi with his son Vivek Oberoi. However, the project failed to take off and the contract expired. [i]
Upon the expiration of the contract, Mr. Joshi started approaching other production houses including Viacom 18.[ii] Parveez Shaikh, who has been recognized as one of the three screenplay writers of the movie, was an employee at Viacom 18. The plaintiff contends that the screenplay of the movie infringes his copyright in the story. It has also been contended by the plaintiff that he had engaged a team to short list locations where the movie could be shot. It is alleged that the locations shown in the movie, resemble those in the video clips that were taken by the aforementioned team. [iii]
Bombay High Court has refused to grant an injunction for restraining the satellite broadcast of the movie. However, the court did direct the defendants to file a reply by October 21, 2015.
This is not the first time accusations pertaining to copyright infringement have been made in reference to Bajrangi Bhaijaan. ‘Bhar do Jholi’, a qawwali featured in the movie, has been in news amid claims of copyright infringement put forth by different individuals. Legal notices have been slapped on the makers of the movie by Abdul Samee Siddiqui[iv] as well as by EMI Pakistan[v], both claiming ownership of the said song.
With the growing awareness of the importance of intellectual property (IP), it comes as no surprise that Bollywood has increasingly started assessing their IP rights, in particular copyright. The plethora of copyright infringement cases knocking on the doors of the Indian judiciary, exemplify the inseparability between IP rights and Bollywood.
[i] Bajrangi Bhaijaan slammed with INR50 crore copyright infringement suit, available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/970564/bajrangi-bhaijaan-slammed-with-inr50-crore-copyright-infringement-suit/
[ii] Rs. 50 cr Copyright infringement case filed against makers of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, available at : http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/16541750/Rs.-50-cr-Copyright-infringement-case-filed-against-makers-of-Bajrangi-Bhaijaan
[iii] L. Gopika Murthy, The Bajrangi Bhaijaan Lawsuit, available at: http://spicyip.com/2015/10/the-bajrangi-bhaijaan-lawsuit.html
[iv] Bajrangi Bhaijaan Makers Slapped With Legal Notice, available at: http://movies.ndtv.com/bollywood/bajrangi-bhaijaan-makers-slapped-with-legal-notice-779329
[v] Hasan Ansari, EMI Pakistan serves legal notice to ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/918521/emi-pakistan-serves-legal-notice-to-bajrangi-bhaijaan/