Sarkar director AR Murugadoss denies plagiarism charges: Writer's union is prejudiced against me
AR Murugadoss, whose upcoming film Sarkar is in the midst of a plagiarism row, has denied all charges calling the writer's union unjust and prejudiced
After days of silence, AR Murugadoss has responded to the plagiarism charges leveled against him by writer Varun Rajendran, who claims the director copied his script to create the Vijay Thalapathy-starrer Sarkar. Two days ago, the Madras High Court directed Sun Pictures, the producer of the film, to respond to a petition filed by Varun alleging copyright infringement. The complainant on Wednesday sought the court to stall the release of Sarkar, which is set to hit screens on 6 November and compensate him with Rs 30 lakh for the copyright violation.
On Friday, K Bhagyaraj, president of South Indian Film Writers' Association, released a letter addressed to Varun stating that the story of Sarkar is the same as Sengol, a story written by him. A translated version of Bhagyaraj's letter to Varun read: "Despite a few differing opinions, we have decided as a majority that the story of Sengol and Sarkar are the same. We inform you (Varun Rajendran) that the story of Sengol which was registered on 21 November, 2007 and the story of Sarkar are identical as per the decision of the writers' union. We will not stand in the way of any legal proceedings that you initiate to seek justice for your work. We regret that we could not help you in this situation."
Now, AR Murugadoss, in his press interaction on Saturday, has put forth a barrage of questions to Bhagyaraj and called his investigation as unfair. "Except for Vijay sir's projects, I don't face any plagiarism charges for other films. It's very peculiar (smiles). In fact, anyone who has worked with Vijay sir in the last few years has battled the same controversies. Since it's a big budget project and attracts a great lot of attention, it's quite natural for anyone to seek publicity. In the Sarkar issue, I strongly feel that the South Indian Film Writers' Association and its president K Bhagyaraj are unfairly prejudiced against me. Their lack of investigation has predisposed me as an individual and has demeaned me as a wrongdoer."
Clarifying that Sarkar is quite different from Sengol, Murugadoss said, "Sengol was registered by Varun Rajendran ten years back in the writers' guild. Sarkar is based on a lot of contemporary issues, and our screenplay and treatment are entirely different of Sengol. Facebook Lives, Twitter handles, the demise of our late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, the latest political incidents, Marina protest, Tuticorin issue, Methane controversy form the ingredients in my screenplay, things which are burning issues in 2018. How could a story which was conceived eleven years back be the same as Sarkar? It's quite impossible. As of today, I have never submitted any full bound script in the union. How could they release a statement saying both the screenplays are identical? They have only read the six to seven-page-long synopsis of Sarkar and have decided unfairly that both the stories are same and pronounced me guilty in this case. This is entirely unjust and a partial view of the situation."
Murugadoss said he is ready to screen the full movie and provide a copy of the full screenplay to the association. "Either they should have appointed a dedicated team to watch my film and compare it with the screenplay of Sengol or constituted a group to examine both the screenplays before concluding. However, they have done neither. How could they decide to punish me with half-baked facts and knowledge?" he argued.
Justifying the similarity between the primary incident in Sengol and Sarkar as coincidence, Murugadoss said, "The only similar thing in both the screenplays is the missing vote while the protagonist tries to exercise his franchise in the election. It happened to Sivaji Ganesan when he was alive. Even K Bhagyaraj had told once said that his vote was already cast when he went to Nadigar Sangam election. A few years back, Kamal Haasan's name was missing in the voters list. When I went to vote along with my wife, her vote was already cast by someone else. It's a common problem which persists in our country. In Sarkar, Vijay sir plays a role which is modeled on the lines of Google CEO Sundar Pichai. How could the writers' union arrive at a firm conclusion that my film is copied based on only one scene? It's an injudicious call."
He also exposed the decisions of the panel members who investigated the issue in the union. "The EC members are totally in the split, and there's no unanimous decision in the issue. Six of them have decided that both the screenplays are different. Five of them have signed saying they are the same and two of them have remained neutral. How could Bhagyaraj release a statement saying that the majority of the members arrived at a consensus? Did he at least read out the statement to the EC members before sending it out?" asked Murugadoss.
Addressing another major allegation, Murugadoss retorted: "There is another accusation that Varun's companion Vijay, a still photographer, who happens to be a friend of my friend Suriyakiran, narrated the story of Sengol to Suriyakiran and later, he leaked it to me. They are speculating that Vijay, who has worked in three of my films, blurted out the script of Sengol to me. Why would I discuss a script with a still photographer? It's quite illogical. The writers' union could have easily investigated Vijay and found out the truth. Instead, they were quick to judge me and brand me guilty."
On a concluding note, Murugadoss said, "Suriyakiran had shared screen space with Bhagyaraj sir long back in a film. I have also learned that the complainant, Varun Rajendran and Bhagyaraj sir had worked together in a television serial ten years back. Now, how can I believe that this investigation is just? I strongly suspect foul play and that their judgment is very biased against me."
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