The unexpected skirmish between two filmmakers Ketan Mehta and Neerraj Pathak has now gone to the courts.
On Wednesday, Pathak sent a legal notice to Mehta stating that that he should refrain from making a film on the life of ‘Mountain Man’ Dashrath Manjhi as he, Pathak, had the rights for making the bio-pic and had taken the permission of the family for the same.
But Ketan Mehta determined to go ahead with his film, scoffs at Neerraj Pathak’s logic. “Manjhi’s life is part of the public domain. Anyone can make a film on his life. There’s no law to prevent it. When I made Rang Rasiya on the life of the painter Raja Ravi Verma, at least 3-4 other films on his life were announced. So what? I am sure my take on Manji’s life would be very different from the other film.”
Bihar’s ‘Mountain Man’ Dashrath Manji who spent half his life digging out a road in a rocky mountain to connect his home town with the nearest hospital, would surely feel flattered to see two filmmakers ready to fight it out in a court for the right to make a film on his life.
Director Neerraj Pathak says he has been researching on the life of Manjhi for the past seven months, will do everything in his power to stop fellow-filmmaker Ketan Mehta from attempting a bio-pic on the same character.
Says Pathak, “I’ll fight this out legally, will seek a stay order on Ketan Mehta’s proposed film. The reason why I haven’t started my film on Dashrath Manjhi earlier was because I was busy shooting Bhaiyaji Superhitt. But my creative team has visited Manjhi’s family in Bihar several times. I’ve been on the phone with them constantly.”
Significantly, Pathak hopes to start his film in the beginning of October at around the same time when Ketan Mehta hopes to begin his film.
Says Pathak, “I will begin my film in October. But I first need to sort this out.”
Ketan Mehta is unfazed by this unexpected turn of events. “The minute I receive the legal notice my lawyers will reply to it. Let anyone else make a film on Dashrath Manjhi. The more the merrier. The man’s story is inspiring enough to be made into two films. I am not the least perturbed. There is no law preventing two filmmakers working on the same subject. Manji’s family may not support my film. I don’t need their consent to make the film.”
In the meanwhile both Ketan Mehta and Neerraj Pathak are expected in Bihar for the pre-production activities on their Dashrath Manjhi film in the middle of September.
No matter who wins or loses the fight to make the film, Manjhi is the winner.