Saturday, January 2, 2010

Where should the 3 Idiots vs FPS Row lead Hollywood?

3 Idiots vs Five Point Someone Chetan Bhagat has finally realized that there is no point in going back and forth making allegations and announced his decision on his blog not to talk about the issue again. However, I think it is a good exercise and in the interest of everyone to try and figure out where all this should lead Hollywood to.
Before we go further, you might be interested in taking a look at the arguments and counterarguments that made into headlines big time after the release of 3 Idiots, a film based on Chetan’s first novel, Five Point Someone.

Chetan’s Arguments
VC Team’s Counterarguments
Chetan argues, with the support of his Fan Mails, more than 70% of the film is directly from FPS, though the film makers claim 3 Idiots is only 2 to 5 % inspired by the book.
A site called thefourthidiot.com, launched by Amit Jotwani, lists out at least 25 ways in which the film is different from the book.
Chetan said he was hurt and shocked to see that the film makers did not give him due credit in the film.
VC Team claimed that they gave Chetan the credit due to him as per the contract the Production House had entered into with Chetan.
Chetan claims that he was never shown the final script
Hungama.com interviewed Chetan before the release of the film and during the interview he tells us Raju Hirani narrated the script to him more than once.
Chetan claims that he was never shown the film before it was released.
Hirani claims that when he tried to contact Chetan when the final print arrived, he was in Hongkong. And Chetan had seen the film during Premiere. 
Chetan concluded the sale of FPS Rights to VC Films four years ago and that was his first Film Right Sale. Both Chetan and VC Films entered into a contract, which said “It shall be obligatory on the part of the producer to accord credit to the author in the rolling credits of any audio-visual moving image software (of any format or form in any media or medium) produced by the Producer in terms of the exercise and the execution of the rights herein granted as under – Based on the Novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat.” Rolling credits? Have you heard of rolling credits? A film has only Opening Credits and Closing Credits. There is nothing like Rolling Credits. Even if there is, it is a technique film editors use to render credits. Chetan has a clear case in favour of him here because the term “Rolling Credits” in the contract is not defined and is misleading. Credits can roll in the beginning or end of a film, depending on what the director decides. And the contract does not tell us when exactly the director would want the credit to roll. I know that line of argument sounds childish to you. But a good lawyer can make it sound valid in court, with the help of a language expert.
Let us accept that “Rolling Credits” indeed meant “Closing Credits”. Chetan can again argue that he accepted that thinking only 2 to 5 % is taken from the book and rest of it is VC Film’s own doing. We all know what VC Films was trying to feed us before the film released. They were claiming that the film is completely different from the book. After I watched it, I am sure I can give 50 examples for why the film is ripped straight off from the book, against “thefourthidiot’s” 25 examples for why the film is not the book. Just because you add a few subplots to the original plot, splash a little colour and add a couple of songs do not mean that a story is original. And everyone knows what Closing Credits mean to Indian Audience. Closing Credits is a time when we get ready to leave the Movie Hall. Chetan clearly deserved an Opening Credit and what VC did was a clear violation of Copyright Laws.
You may argue Chetan did not object about credits when Hirani “narrated” the script to him several times. Give me a break! Do you know the difference between hearing a ‘narrated’ script and ‘reading the final script’? We do not know what script Hirani narrated to Chetan. We will never know because Chetan is not going to talk about it anymore. We will also never know if Chetan made it to the Premiere of the Film. I hope Hirani has tickets to show that Chetan travelled from Hongkong to India for the Premiere. Otherwise, that will not be considered in court.
It is very evident that VC Films, with the help of AAmir Khan and Hirani, is trying to take our attention away from the key issue. The issue here is “Credits”. Everyone knows that Chetan was not given due credit. Like Vikas Swarup was given credit for his Q&A in Slumdog Millionaire. If VC Films can figure out what Swarup’s Credit in Slumdog Millionaire meant, they will understand what Chetan is talking about.
I am sure we would not have heard about Swarup if an Indian Film Maker produced Slumdog Millionaire. We heard about Swarup because there is a Writer’s Guild in Hollywood and they would have sued Danny Boyle’s ass had he not given Swarup his due credit. And that is exactly what we lack in Bollywood, a Writer’s Guild. I think the FPS vs 3 Idiots Row should lead us there. Chetan should think of using his advocacy charms to woo the Bollywood Writers, get them together and form a Writer’s Guild in India.
Update: Just like I thought. Chetan confirmed today [Jan 5, 2010] that he did not read the final script. It was only narrated to him. Now, there is a big difference between reading the script and hearing the script.

25 comments:

  1. That was enlightening! Didn't knew the controversy between the 2 parties!! Thanks for sharing!!
    And a very happy new year!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for reading and the comment Shilpa. I am glad you read this here first :) Gives me breaking news status :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You don't know the feeling one gets when one's work is copied and twisted and claimed..!! you are a fucking forthidiot..!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for the comment anonymous idiot. u sure didn't bring your reading glass along when you were reading or you sure don't understand English. Which ever way, I don't give a damn what your dumb little brain could infer from what I wrote :P

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is so perfect....i think Mr. Bhagat should see this blog, it has amazing points.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Exactly mate... Very well concluded..!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for the comment Anonymous Smartie,I wish he saw this :)

    Amrinder, thanks for stopping by and reading :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. great stuff sojo!! I thought Aamir was a good guy,but by openly supporting Hirani,he showed that the charm of money is too tempting to resist...and this 4thidiot site is ridiculous!!...i agee wid u dude,but I dont think Chetan will ever get justice against the might of the Bollywood biggies.

    ReplyDelete
  9. But I think we all should learn that no matter what happens - All that is written down is what matters, in this case the contract. Chetan, much as I believe he should be given a part of the Story Credit, cannot on a legal basis ask for it.

    Next time, anyone, think twice before signing on the dotted line.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for reading Surath.

    About Aamir's involvement - more than about money, it was arrogance. The body language of the trio, Hirani, Chopra and Aaamir clearly indicated arrogance.

    And you are right. 4thidiot site is ridiculous. It shows how money makes biggies feed us with their lies. :)

    I think Chetan should push further than getting justice for himself. i think he should push to make writing a happy experience for lesser known writers :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. u r totally correct 2 support CB i actually didn't notice chetan's name there in closing end if u just make it clear if the name of CB was there or not ? N I wish CB see ur blog

    ReplyDelete
  12. thanks for reading subir:) the credit was not meant to be seen. so many of us didn't see it. i left the film hall wondering!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for wasting my 10 minutes !!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Since my comment to the anonymous smartie right after surath was typed it a hurry, I deleted it and I am adding an edited and sensible version here:

    If we are talking about law: there is something called natural justice. The principles of natural justice is based on several notions. One among them is 'A Right to Advanced Warning.' A right to advanced warning is explained as follows: 'Contractual obligations depriving individuals of their Rights cannot be imposed retrospectively.' Now, there was a contract which both signed. But it was written in such a way that it did not clearly mention that Chetan would not be given credits along with the other two writers involved in the project. Sure, VC Films agreed to put Chetan's credits in the closing credits. They did that. However, pushing Chetan to closing credits and putting the other two writers in the opening credit, VC Films clearly violated the principle of natural justice that strongly holds ' Contractual obligations depriving individuals of their Rights cannot be imposed retrospectively.'

    Chetan signed it, you are right. chetan should have thought about it before signing it, you are right. But Chetan clearly did not have any clue that the film is more than 50% of his novel and he had no idea that the other two writers would be given a prominent place in the opening credit. There was a clear misrepresentation. According to Section 18(2) of Indian Contract Act 1872 misrepresentation also includes "any breach, of duty which, without an intent to deceive, gains an advantage to the person committing it, or any one claiming under him, by misleading another to his prejudice or to the prejudice of any one claiming under him" VC films did not intend to deceive Chetan, perhaps. But they clearly gained an advantage over Chetan by making him sign that contract, misleading him to believe two things. One, they made him believe the film was only 5% of his novel. Two, they did not mention the credit placing of the other two writers. No wonder they would not let him read the script, no wonder they would not let him see the film.

    VC Films saw this coming. That was perhaps the reason why they paid Chetan the bonus even before the film was released and was a success, hoping that he would take the money and keep his mouth shut.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for reading PS. I don't mind wasting a couple of seconds on you, even if that means 'trolls' do not have the guts to come in their real IDs :P

    ReplyDelete
  16. I liked your post..its very fair and transperent not biased..

    Overall the language used by Aamir and all team on this issue against Chetan was simply disgusting. I was wondered after watching Aamir in press conference..and was thinking is he the original Aamir??..or actual Aamir he is...I jus wanted to comment on Aamir as I was a big fan of him..but now thinking does he really deserve it??

    Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for reading Sandy.:)

    Heroes are usually what we think they are not. can't blame them. they are human beings :)We evaluate them based on the roles they play in the films. What could we do, acting is about trying to make people believe what you are not :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. you have gone technical man.... and well prove the point.. even if we dont get techy, its damn clear the way the movie is adapted from book.. and a point you may like to address - whats the loss of RH/AK /VC gang to give credit duly to CB - its not about money honey, its only about due credit which doesnt cost them anything... I wud believe whatever in the past VC/RH/AK has done was stolen like this from not-so-impt ppl like CB... they got caught red-handed this time...

    Sandeep

    ReplyDelete
  19. and the reason the fourthidiot.com is comparing the 2 itself means there is connection and he has been able to find oly 25 differences... even if chetan himself write the book again, it will be differnt in 50 ways... and the fourthidiot guys knowledge level is so small that he hasnt got exposed to any such adaption in hollywood.. be it da vinci code or slumdog, the movie has to be different on 100 counts..how can you compare 200 pages with 3 hours.. doesnt mean that the script is original idea.. mr fourthidiot, you surely are proving an idiot of urself..

    sandeep

    ReplyDelete
  20. I hardly watch Bollywood movies and have never read a CB book so i've not commented on his blog..but hope you dont mind my comment here..

    Aamir Khan starred in the Christopher Nolan's “Memento” rip off film.. and said his film is "different" so im really not surprised that he's on the side of Hirani...

    Chetan Bhagat..reading comments on his blog [from other readers] such as:

    "Mr. Bhagat’s last Novel “One Night @ the Call Center” was also adapted into a movie called “HELLO”, but the film flopped and Mr. Bhagat did not find time to look for appropriate “CREDIT” in the film."..

    Whats your take on this?

    On the whole your Slumdog millionaire analogy is very good..

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sandeeep, its not about money for both the parties. For VC Team its about a possible award night. For Chetan, it is about his credit. [He too hinted at Awards when he spoke, as in who goes to collect the award for the stroy?]

    Blind Dayze, Hello gives a full screen opening credit to Chetan. 3i should have done at least that :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. This was just an promotional act both book and film are getting free publicity...now people gonna watch the film n read the book...they got what they wished ;) ...n we all are the fourth Idiot

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous Smartie, thanks for reading. The easiest way to handle a burning issue in the public domain is to write it off as publicity stunt.

    ReplyDelete
  24. That was truly well explained.. :)

    I support Chethan Bhagath completely..
    And I think he took a wise move by ending the issue. Unlike the 3 idiots team bend upon creating an ugly scene, he decided to close it all up even though right was on his side.
    My respect for him has increased manifold.

    ReplyDelete