Sarkar: Writer's union president responds to plagiarism row, says film can't exist without complainant's idea
After AR Murugadoss alleged bias and unfair prejudice in the ongoing investigation of plagiarism charges against Sarkar, South Indian Film Writers' Association president K Bhagyaraj responded to his allegations and talked about a certain phone call with Thalapathy Vijay.
"Even before I began to act on Varun Rajendran's complaint formally, I invited AR Murugadoss to my office for a one-on-one conversation to settle the issue amicably since the project involves a lot of big names and huge investments. Rajendran's story is about a lawyer who comes to India to exercise his voting franchise and finds out that his vote was already cast by someone else. Then, he files a case in the court, and the election gets canceled. This makes the protagonist locks horns with a powerful politician. In the re-election, the protagonist stands against the politician and wins. Then, there arises an opportunity for the protagonist to become the chief minister of that state. Whether he becomes the CM or not forms the third-act. The outline of Sarkar and Sengol, penned by Varun Rajendran, is the same," Bhagyaraj told in a press interaction on 28 October.
In his attempt to demystify the issue, Bhagyaraj, inadvertently revealed the entire story of Sarkar. "When I told Murugadoss about the stark similarities in both the stories, he quoted two incidents including the missing vote of Sivaji Ganesan as his inspiration. Then I asked him if Sivaji Ganesan had gone to the court and got the elections canceled. This progression is similar in both Sengol and Sarkar. Then, the enmity against the politician is quite common and agreeable. Later, Vijay takes on the politician, and in Sengol too, it's the same. Then, the protagonist winning the election and the resultant opportunity to become the state's CM are also the same. Murugadoss argued that it's quite natural for the screenplay to move forward against the politician after the hero finds out that his vote was already cast. 'Just like how he felt inspired ten years back, I have my inspirations,' he said. I totally agree with everything Murugadoss put forth," he said.
He further added: "I reasoned with Murugadoss stating that it's totally fine to get inspired by different incidents. But, Varun Rajendran had written the same story ten years back. I told him, 'Let's not get into giving credits in the story and screenplay, which would also pave the way for handing him over a share in the rights of the film in other languages too. So, let's at least credit him as a co-writer for the idea conceived.' That's what the writer's union is for: To protect struggling and aspiring writers and directors. Screenplay and treatment could be different. When I make this film, it could be different. But, the outline of both the stories is entirely the same. When Varun is given due credit for his idea, it will definitely help him to come up in life. Murugadoss was not ready to give in and told me that he would confront the issue in court and asked me to take up his complaint."
Taking on Murugadoss' main allegation that there was no consensus in the EC meeting of the union, Bhagyaraj said, "Despite a lot of heated arguments, the majority of the members in the executive committee meeting concluded that both the stories are same. Without the core idea of Varun's story, Sarkar is not possible. Murugadoss says that there's no consent in the majority in the EC meeting. I'd like to openly challenge him to prove the same. The entire discussion of the meeting and the arguments of all the members are properly recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Anyone can check and verify it. Murugadoss has been silent for all these days. Now, he's speaking up due to certain circumstances. I totally empathise with him and understand his angst. But, his talks are motivated and instigated by someone else."
Bhagyaraj also revealed that he personally called up actor Vijay to explain the issue and tender his apology. "I appealed to Murugadoss to help a struggling assistant director, who has written a story and has traveled with it for nearly ten years. We are all part of the same industry, and that's why I was reluctant to accept the complaint initially. My son is a huge fan of Vijay, and it has put me in a complicated situation in my home too. I personally called up Vijay and asked him not to mistake me for my action. He said, 'Sir, don't worry. I never knew this. Please do whatever is right and please don't feel awkward about this. I totally understand your situation. Since Murugadoss has told that he will face the issue legally, let him deal with it.' I thanked him for being understanding."
All eyes are on Madras High Court, who will hear the case tomorrow, on an urgent basis since the film is slated to hit screens worldwide on 6 November for the Diwali weekend.
Updated Date: Oct 30, 2018 10:31 AM