While the producers of the eagerly awaited Akshay Kumar starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha about the pit-falls (pun intended) of open-air defecation are discreetly quiet on the issue of alleged copyright infringement, the much-awaited film’s young director Shree Narayan Singh is far from inert in his creative corner.
Known to work silently, Singh has emerged from the shadows to challenge the documentary maker Praveen Vyas’ contention that Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is copied from Vyas’s short film Manini. Vyas claims there are ‘striking resemblances’ between his film and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.
Shree Narayan Singh laughs off the allegation as nothing more than a belated attempt at arm-twisting. “Any film on open-air defecation would have generic similarities. And Mr. Vyas is taking undue advantage of those incidental similarities that he may have perceived. Luckily for us, we are very clearly placed on this situation. Our writers Siddharth and Garima had registered their script for us to make in 2014. Every scene, every moment that we’ve shot is in that script duly registered 3 years ago. And luckily, we have the script’s registered copy at the Writers’ Association with us on hard copy, signed and official.”
Significantly, Shree Narayan points out that Vyas’ short film came out much later. “His film was uploaded on the internet on 19 October 2016, almost two years after we registered our script. It’s therefore humanly impossible for us to have peeped into Mr. Vyas’ script. And just for the sake of argument, even if we had taken a sneaky look into his film, how could we make a film based on his work in just months since October 2016? Film making is not an easy medium ke unka concept ya film maine 2016 October mein dekha aur dus din mein casting location costume sab kuch ready kiya and shoot kar liya.”
Calling the legal notice from Vyas ludicrous and deliberately damaging in its timing Shree Narayan is prepared for a long battle in court ahead. “Mr. Vyas knows this is nothing but nuisance litigation meant to harass producers and filmmakers at the last minute. I am not going to allow my producers a dent in their pocket to silence greed. The first trailer of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha came out a few months ago. Why didn’t Mr. Vyas react then? Why has he waited till just a few weeks before our film is to release?”
As we spoke, Shree Narayan’s lawyer was busy putting together a befitting reply.
“We are very sure about our intentions and the chronology of our film’s development and shooting. We thought of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha long before the ‘Swachh Bharat Andolan’ whereas Vyas made his short film specifically for that ‘andolan”, reasons Shree Narayan.
Initially, Toilet Ek Prem Katha was planned as the story of a newly married woman who fights for a toilet in her sasural. But then, Akshay Kumar came into the picture and it became the story of a newly-married husband who is determined to build a toilet for his bride.
To every Shah Jahan his own Taj Mahal, eh Akshay?