Relief for Hyderabad filmmaker as SC refuses to lift stay on Amitabh Bachchan starrer 'Jhund'

On November 18, the Supreme Court refused to lift the stay on the release of Amitabh Bachchan starrer `Jhund'.

By Sumit Jha  Published on  20 Nov 2020 10:36 AM GMT
Relief for Hyderabad filmmaker as SC refuses to lift stay on Amitabh Bachchan starrer Jhund

Hyderabad: On November 18, the Supreme Court refused to lift the stay on the release of Amitabh Bachchan starrer `Jhund'.

The court dismissed an appeal against the Telangana High Court order which had stalled the movie's screening over copyright row.

The row started in 2018 when the makers announced that the movie will go on the floors. The movie is based on the life story of Vijay Barse, played by Amitabh Bachchan, a football coach in Mumbai slums.

The independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar alleged that the makers of Jhund violated the copyright.

Vijay Barse coached a player Akhilesh Paul who was the captain of the slum football team. Akhilesh Paul appeared on the television show 'Satyamev Jayate' hosted by Amir Khan.

After his appearance on the show, Hyderabad based independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar decided to make a film on him. He approached Akhilesh Paul and purchased the rights from him to make a feature film based on his story. An agreement was signed between the two in November 2017. He paid Rs 5.50 lakh as the signing amount and promised to pay the remaining Rs 6.50 lakh before the commencement of the shooting.

Akhilesh Paul also gave the no-objection certificate to Nandi Chinni Kumar in March 2018. The filmmaker registered the script 'Slum Soccer' based on Akhilesh Paul life in July 2018 with Telangana Cinema Writers Association.

In April 2018, T-series along with the filmmaker Nagraj Manjule announced 'Jhund' starring Amitabh Bachchan will go on the floors.

"From Akhilesh Paul to Amitabh Bachchan, I sent emails to everyone involved in this film. I hold the copyright and requested them to desist from indulging in any such infringement," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

The filmmaker said in contravention to terms and conditions of the agreement, Akhilesh Paul assigned his true life story to third parties based on which Tamil film "Bigil' was made.

When 'Bigil' was released in October 2019, Chinni Kumar filed a complaint in Gachibowli Police Station against Akhilesh Paul. The filmmaker later obtained an ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining Amazon Prime from streaming Bigil.

Nandi Chinni Kumar also sent a legal notice to Akhilesh Paul, the makers of Jhund, and even Amitabh Bachchan asking them to stop the shoot, post-production, marketing, and releasing Jhund.

But, the makers of Jhund announced that on May 8, 2020, the film will be released. On May 13, Nandi Chinni Kumar filed a suit in Kukatpally court.

On September 17, the court restrained the release of the film until further orders. The court also barred exhibiting and broadcasting Jhund in India by Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Super cassette private limited, which produces the movie, and director Nagaraj Manjule approached Telangana High Court to dismiss the injunction orders. On October 19, the High Court dismissed the filmmaker's petition.

On Thursday, a three-judge bench of SC led by Chief Justice SA Bobde dismissed the plea by Super Cassettes challenging the October 19 order of the Telangana High Court restraining the release of the movie in India and abroad.

"Akhilesh Paul confessed to me that he has signed an agreement with Nagraj Manjule for the film. In the SLP, filmmakers agreed that Akhilesh Paul signed a contract with them in February 2018. This is a breach of contract and confidence by Akhilesh Paul. They suppressed this fact in the trial court," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

In the first week of November, he filed a contempt of court case against Amazon prime after receiving the information that the streaming platform has agreed to release the film. However, he later denied it.

Nandi Chinni Kumar said the makers of Jhund argue that Akhilesh Paul's story is in the public domain. They are repeatedly changing the stance in court.

"Nagraj Manjule, a national film award winner director is also involved in suppressing the fact. When I had a conversation with him, he said he would resolve the issue. It is not about the settlement, it's about accepting the facts of copyright law," said Nandi Chinni Kumar.

On calling out Amitabh Bachchan, the Hyderabad-based filmmaker said he even wrote an open letter to him but he maintained eerie silence.

Nandi Chinni Kumar said they had met the Super Cassettes for outside-the-court settlement, but due to certain clauses in the agreement, he pulled out.

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