The Film Writers Association of India is now coming up with a "model contract" to ensure writers get a fair deal.The difficulties facing film writers in India have been highlighted by the recent case of the film 3 Idiots, based on Five Point Someone, a book by Chetan Bhagat. As Rhys Blakely reports for the Times.
"Within the industry, there are many examples of writers who have gone to a big producer with a script, been rejected and then realised that the same film was made two years later," says an industry insider.
"Unfortunately, it's their word against the producers."
...the film’s success [it took £41 million in 18 days] has been overshadowed by allegations of double dealing and backstabbing among its creators. Bhagat has alleged that the film-makers have sought to hide the fact that the movie is based on his work. He reacted furiously after he learnt that the storyline was credited in the opening titles to Abhijat Joshi, a scriptwriter, and Rajkumar Hirani, the director. The promotional campaign gives the author no mention and statements released to publicise the film’s success have failed to give him any credit.Bhagat gives his side of the story on his blog (the fact that his post has more than 2,200 comments shows how big an issue this has become).
The case is as simple as the makers claiming the story as their own, and clearly it is not. Pre-release, the makers made press statements like the movie is only ‘very loosely’, ‘2%-5% inspired by the book’. After release, those who have read the book and seen the movie (and frankly, I think those are the only people who have the right to comment) find the film to be an adaptation of Five Point Someone. The setting, characters, plotline, dramatic twists and turns, one-liners, theme, message – almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that – but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have privately admitted to me that the film is 70% the book. Still, don’t take my word for it – go read the book, watch the film.Best of luck to all Indian writers as they organise to assert and defend their rights.