Gulabo Sitabo writer Juhi Chaturvedi accused of plagiarism; producers say it's ‘deliberate attempt to malign, damage film’
Late writer Rajeev Agarwal's son, Akira, has accused Juhi Chaturvedi of plagiarising his father's story for Gulabo Sitabo.
Rising Sun Films, the production house of filmmaker Shoojit Sircar and producer Ronnie Lahiri, have denied all the allegations of plagiarism against Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan starrer Gulabo Sitabo. Writer Juhi Chaturvedi was accused by late writer Rajeev Agarwal's son, Akira, of plagiarising his father's story for her upcoming film, a claim the production house termed "baseless."
Rajeev had submitted his story in 'Cinestaan India’s Storyteller Script Contest', of which Juhi was a jury member, claimed Akira's lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee.
Chaturvedi in a statement denied all the allegations and said, “My conscience is clear and so are the facts in this matter. Gulabo Sitabo is my original work and I am proud of it. I shared the idea with the director and lead actor of the film in early 2017. I subsequently registered the concept note for the film in May 2018. I also must clarify the speculations around my conduct as a jury member for Cinestaan’s contest. I had no access to the so-called infringed script at any point in time, as alleged. This fact has been independently confirmed by Cinestaan as well. Even the SWA, who has looked at this dispute in May, 2020, decided in my favour. I speak now to request the press and public not to be disillusioned by false accusations, which are for publicity only. Acts of harassment, defamatory comments, and leaking confidential notices by the accusers only show their lack of faith in their own case. I stand by my truth.”
The story was submitted in March 2018 and shortlisted. On 28 June 2018, the final script was also submitted for the contest and all jury members had full access to the same, said Siddiquee.
According to the lawyer, Akira was shocked to find similarities between Gulabo Sitabo and his father's story when he saw the trailer of the film. He claimed the story, background and theme of the movie looked similar to his father’s script.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Rising Sun Films said Chaturvedi's concept for Gulabo Sitabo was registered in 2018, much before the contest.
"Furthermore, Juhi never received a copy of the supposedly copied script. This has been independently confirmed by the script writing contest organisers as well. Our film’s story is different from that sent out in the notice. It is surprising how grave allegations are being made solely on the basis of a 2 minute 41 second trailer," the banner said in the statement.
Siddiquee said Akira approached Screenwriters Association (SWA) for mediation, which then asked Juhi to submit her script.
The lawyer claimed the writer denied that she had access to the script, even though it was mentioned in the terms and conditions of 'Cinestaan India’s Storyteller Script Contest'.
"In all fairness, she was still called upon to submit her work for verification and authentication, however she refuses to do so, despite lapse of more than 12 days. Also she is being extremely evasive and lying on records, thereby denying apparent facts as seen in the trailer of 'Gulabo Sitabo,'" Siddiquee said in a statement.
According to Rising Sun Films, the SWA ruled in favour of Juhi on 29 May and said the "allegers are upset as the SWA decision didn’t go in their favour."
"Releasing the notice to the press, harassing us on social media, seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign Juhi and damage the film. We have full faith in our film. At this time, when we have taken the bold decision to release the film on OTT, these baseless allegations only create unnecessary controversy. We request the press to stand by us and condemn the behavior of these allegers and their lawyer for resorting to such tactics only for press, limelight and ulterior motives.”
Chaturvedi has penned acclaimed films like Vicky Donor, October and Piku, all directed by Sircar.
Gulabo Sitabo is currently gearing up for its premiere on Amazon Prime Video on 12 June.
(With inputs from Press Trust of India)
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