The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the producers and writers of Bollywood film Bhootnath Returns to try to settle the dispute with a Hindi writer, who alleged that the film is a “complete adaptation” of his short story published in a magazine in 2007.
The petitioner, Hindi writer Sushant Supriya, has claimed credit for the story and has sought orders from the court to be named as the writer.
“I am not seeking injunction against the release of the film,” Supriya’s counsel senior advocate Pratibha Maninder Singh told the court, even though the petition had sought such an injunction.
“The petitioner is saying the heart of the film, which is the trailer, is the complete adaptation of his literary work. Just have a meeting with him (writer) and see whether something can be done or not. Be truthful,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul said.
Advocate Singh, in her arguments, referred to nine expressions from the trailer of the film, which is scheduled to hit theatres across the country on April 11. Singh said the expressions have been copied from the short story Bhootnath, written by Supriya, that was published in 2007 in Hindi magazine Aaj Kal.
“It is notable that even the first Bhootnath film was a copy of the The Canterville Ghost, a short story by Oscar Wilde,” the petition filed by Supriya said.
The petition alleges that “the defendants have never made an original film on the theme of a friendly ghost, and have not done so in the case of the infringing film as well”.
The lawyer said Bhootnath Returns was not the sequel of Bhootnath. “Unlike most sequels, the infringing film is based on an entirely new storyline and has no relationship with the first film, especially in terms of the supporting cast,” the lawyer told the court.
The petition filed by Supriya has sought a direction from the court that the producers be prevented from “screening trailers” and releasing the “infringing” film in theatres.
“An order for permanent injunction restraining the defendants, their partners or proprietor… from infringing the copyright of the plaintiff in the literary character Bhootnath, from screening the trailer of the film Bhootnath Returns or releasing the film or parting with the satellite or DVD or Internet rights for the film, be passed,” the petitioner said.