Friday, July 31, 2015

Writers’ Victory – Kunal Kohli Loses “Phir Se”

The Supreme Court has proved in a landmark ruling that writers need no longer cower in fear in the face of large production houses. The Apex Court has ruled in favor of scriptwriter Jyoti Kapoor and has found that director/producer Kunal Kohli’s upcoming film “Phir Se” shares similarities with Ms. Kapoor’s script “R.S.V.P”.

Ms. Kapoor conceptualized and came up with the plot sometime in 2010.  She registered the synopsis of R.S.V.P with the Film Writers Association (FWA) in Mumbai in 2011. The final draft was registered in 2012.  Ms. Kapoor approached Mr. Kohli through an agent and emailed the script to him thereafter. However, they could not come to an agreement and thus negotiations failed. Subsequently, Ms. Kapoor approached another production house and entered a formal agreement with them. At this time she came across the film “Phir Se” and realized there were strong similarities between her script and the storyline of the film. Accordingly, she filed a complaint with the Film Writers Association for plagiarism and infringement of copyright.

The Bombay High Court ruled in favor of Ms. Kapoor in 2015. It analysed storylines of both the film and the script and found that the individual elements in Ms. Kapoor’s script were not original but together they made a unique story. The Court concluded that Mr. Kohli had used information that was shared privately with him. The Court decided damages would be insufficient as the screenplay was unpublished and thus, granted an interim order against Mr. Kohli preventing him from releasing the film.

Ms. Kapoor moved the Apex Court when the Bombay High Court vacated the stay in return for a guarantee of Rs. 50 Lakhs. The Supreme Court ruled in Ms. Kapoor’s favor and has directed Mr. Kohi to pay Rs. 25 Lakhs as compensation in addition to giving the credit to Ms. Kapoor for the idea.

- Nayanika Singhal