Lights, Camera and deja vu! It’s not the first time a Bollywood film is accused of being a copy or plagiarism. The world of Bollywood is known for its hidden characters and feel-good movies with captivating stories and vibrant characters that make us wish we were a part of the same. The movie Dream Girl tickled our funny bones while also introducing a somewhat new and dramatic aspect to the already drama-filled Bollywood. However, Dream Girl 2 finds itself as the talk of the town for copyright infringement. Bollywood movies have been accused several times of copyright infringement, like the famous coming-of-age good movie of Shahrukh Khan and Alia Bhatt’s ‘Dear Zindagi’, which is said to be a copy of the Canadian-comedy drama TV series Being Erica.
UNDERSTANDING COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT:
Copyright infringement occurs when the violating party exercises any of the creators’ exclusive rights to work without permission. This includes all kinds and manners of distribution like selling, broadcasting, performing, adaptation, or copying of the work. There is a thin line between inspiration and imitation, and sometimes, the line gets crossed knowingly or unknowingly. Paying homage to originality while also trying to balance the elements in a sequel movie is a tough task, and thus, the lines get crossed.
PLAINTIFF’S CONCERNS V. DEFENDANTS JUSTIFICATION:
The Ayushman Khurana film was stated to be released on Friday, August 25. The plaintiff who filed a copyright infringement suit was one Ashim Bagchi, claiming that the story of the film is similar to the script he had registered in 2007. He filed for an injunction against the filmmakers to stay the release of the film.
After watching the trailer of the movie, the plaintiff claimed that it was quite similar to the one he had registered in 2007 and thus issued a cease and desist notice to the production company Balaji Telefilms under whose banner the film is being released as well as the directors Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor the defendants of this case. When there was no response to the notice, the plaintiff approached the Bombay High Court with a commercial suit on August 18.
The case was heard by single judge Justice RI Chagla. Justice Chagla heard all parties, including the writers of the film Raaj Shaandilyaa of Think Ink Pictures Ltd. and Naresh Kathooria. He has granted further time to the defendants to file their replies to the application and posted the matter for a final hearing on August 30.
Earlier there have been various films in Bollywood that have been accused of plagiarism, like Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon’s movie Raabta, which was released in 2017. Raabta was slapped with a copyright infringement suit because it was claimed to be a copy of a Telugu film Magadheera. There were various similarities between the two movies, from the plot to the protagonist. However, the suit was withdrawn as the parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
There have been other referencing cases to further prove that this is not something new in Bollywood, like the famous cases of Shree Venkatesh Films v. Amrutlal Shah, Twentieth Century for Film Corporation v. Sohail Maklai Entertainment, XYZ Films v. UTV Motion Pictures.
COURT’S FINAL SAY:
Justice RI Chagla stated that the film will not be ordered to stay at the eleventh hour of its release. However, he granted time to the defendants to file their response in the said matter by August 30, but no stay will be granted. In a 3-page order, the Court held that “The Interim Application has only been filed on August 18, 2023. The Respondents have not had an opportunity to reply to the Interim Application. It is well settled that at the eleventh hour, films should not be prevented from their release.”
Creating a sequel of a well-known and popular movie that the people welcomed on a large scale is delicate territory, and sometimes, in the quest to create something different, an unknown line can be crossed. The legal aspect of movies and copyright infringement is quite complex, and it is tough to determine whether something is a copy or an original idea of the creators. The Court’s evaluation will further decide whether the movie was copied, but it is out in the theatres for now. The audience is waiting to watch the much-awaited sequel.