Mumbai: Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra says his film "Driver" is based on his cousin`s life and writer Aditya Kripalani`s allegation that he stole his script is baseless.
Kripalani sent a legal notice accusing Mishra of stealing his script and the angry filmmaker intends to take legal action to fight against false copyright claims.
"Before making such claims or substantiating them by writing about them people should read my script for `Driver` which I`ve apparently stolen from this Kripalani chap," an angry Mishra told IANS.
"First of all, I am not scriptwriter for `Driver`. Althia Dalmaj Kaushal is. She was suggested to me by my producer Ekta Kapoor. `Driver` is about forbidden love, that`s what attracted Ekta to my cinema. Kripalani is basing his assumption on what he has read about my film in the media. Even Aravind Adiga`s `White Tiger` is about a chauffeur and a rich man."
Mishra, known for making critically acclaimed films like "Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin", "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi" and "Chameli", intends to take action against Kripalani.
"Besides legal action, once I finish my script, I will take it to the writers` guild in Mumbai and ask for it to be compared with Kripalani`s book. Kripalani has harmed the prospects of any aspiring writer who comes to us. We`ll think twice before allowing them access into our office.
"Why didn`t he contact me if he thought he had a grievance? There`s proof that he`s lying in every line of his. My friends have known about `Driver` for months because I share my ideas openly. I`m not a sneaky plagiarist."
Mishra`s lawyer is preparing a counter-notice.
"My lawyers are on the job. He (Kripalani) hasn`t read my script. So how does he know my script is taken from him? If I`ve to plagiarise at this stage of my career, it`d have to be from much better sources than this. Why would I copy this kid? If I owe any inspirational debt to anyone it`s Guru Dutt, no one else," said Mishra.
He claims that the story which Kripalani claims as his own was given to him by producer Manu Kumaran and journalist-writer Pankaj Kapoor seven years ago.
"Manu hired Aditya Kripalani to write a story for a film that I was to direct. But Manu didn`t like Aditya`s story. So Manu decided to write it himself. That matter was between Manu and Aditya, not me. I was supposed to direct that film for Zee Telefilms. There`s proof of the registration of that story.
"So now Kriplani is in trouble because Kriplani apparently stole Manu Kumaran`s idea to write his novel `Back Seat`. What is he talking about?I think he got excited when he read your article about Ranbir Kapoor being in the project. This man has fallen into his own trap."
Mishra admits he met Kripalani many years back.
"In 2003-2004 Kripalani came to me with an idea for a film on a chauffeur and a rich man`s son. I told him how to carry the idea forward. Let`s get one thing clear - ideas are not copyright-protected. Screenplays are.
"Prove that my film is a scene by scene copy of your story, and you`ve got a case. He claims my film like his book is about a driver and a bar dancer. But there`s no bar dancer in my film!"
Mishra says the idea of "Driver", about neo-affluent class of Delhi, is inspired by his cousin`s life.
"This cousin had run away from home looking for me. He became a servant in someone`s house in Delhi. So it`s story based on incidents from my own family. Just a chauffeur`s presence in my film doesn`t make it anyone else`s property.
"Fortunately, my script has evolved in front of my producer Ekta. So she knows where it`s coming from. If I wanted to remake Kripalani`s book, I`d have asked Ekta to buy it,no? In fact, she offered to buy Sagarika Ghosh`s book for me," said Mishra.