Toilet: Ek Prem Katha starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar is in the news for plagiarism. A documentary film maker, Praveen Vyas, has alleged that the idea behind the film has been lifted from his 2016 documentary, Manini. But, the writers of the film, Siddharth and Garima, say that they had registered the script with the Film Writers Association in August 2014. Garima says, “The script was commissioned to us by Neeraj Pandey (film-maker) in 2013 itself, so we have been working on it since December that year,” says Garima.
According to the writers, the same real-life story had been reported around that time, so they decided to “fictionalise the rest of the story” and come up with their own version. Siddharth says, “Neeraj sir liked that and asked us to go ahead with it. After that, we left for research to places like Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Nandgaon, Barsana, Jhansi and Bahraich, which is near Lucknow.”
In fact, the two writers had asked the film’s makers to set the film around the Mathura area. “We were very happy when they chose to base the film in Mathura, as that’s the milieu that we were also looking for,” says Garima, adding that the allegation of plagiarism has “come out of the blue”.
“It’s not possible to pick up a story from any documentary and take a film to the floors within a few weeks’ time. Is it plausible, especially with a film that stars mainstream actors? If our work is subjected to criticism, we are fine with it. But it’s ridiculous, frustrating and insulting for us to hear that we have copied someone’s work,” says Garima.
Now, Siddharth and Garima plan to hit back. “Right now, we are verifying the facts and other details. Once we are done, we are, in all likelihood, going to file a defamation case. It’s amazing how people come up with such allegations at the last minute for their 15 minutes of fame,” says Garima.