Aditya Kripalani is upset at the manner in which Sudhir Mishra has responded to the entire Driver issue. According to the Kripalani, the script for Driver holds an eerie similarity to Kripalani’s bestselling book, Back Seat. Naturally surprised, Kripalani has now found himself in a feud with the director. BollySpice spoke to Aditya Kripalani regarding the issue and asked for his side of the story.
How long ago did you work with Sudhir Mishra and how did you meet him?
I met him in August in the year 2005. I got his number from someone and contacted him via sms. After confirmation from him I went and met him at his residence in Bandra. During our discussions he only mentioned he would be interested in doing a film with either a watchman or driver and his rich employee and that was it. We spoke about random things, FTII, Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, which by the way I absolutely love, and everything under the sun. 2 weeks later I met him again with an original story of DRIVER which I’d also first registered with the Film Writers Association. The inter-relationships between the characters, the very characters themselves, their drives, motivations, needs, the sequence of events, the structure of the story, the basic central conflict was all written and created by me and was an original expression. I was not working with Mr. Mishra as an employee but as an independent consultant as is the practice in the industry. I may clarify that contrary to news reports I had not written this story at the request of Mr. Manu Kumaran nor was the idea or storyline for this story given to me by Mr. Pankaj Kapoor.
He claims the script of DRIVER is not yours nor his but has been written by Althia Dalmaj Kaushal.
I do not know Althia Dalmaj Kaushal or whether she is writing a script for Mr. Mishra as set out in the recent articles or not. It is not appropriate for me to comment on the same. If I am to go only by what appear to be Mr. Mishra’s quotes in the press, the story of DRIVER as it appeared in the Bombay Times stated ‘DRIVER is a story about a rich spoilt young guy in whose father hires a driver to take care of him. The driver and spoilt rich guy are about the same age. It’s about us as audiences seeing the affluence of Delhi through this driver’s eyes. Driver is also about the driver’s affair with the rich spoilt guy’s mistress’. This is substantially similar to the script, versions of which – from the perspective of each character – I had written titled DRIVER and one version of which I have then adapted and published as a book now titled “BACK SEAT”. For example, if you’ve written Lagaan and see an article in the newspaper stating ‘a game of cricket between villagers to wash off their Lagaan for 3 years against the British in which the villagers don’t know anything about the game’ being done by someone else, would you not have an apprehension and put all concerned to notice of your rights? I have not leveled accusations as sought to be made out. I have set out my views in the letter addressed to him and the letter speaks for itself.
What course of action will you be pursuing now?
My only intent is to ensure that my original story and storyline which I have expressed in my versions of the script and the book and my rights are not violated. I would obviously want to sort the matter amicably. If I am reasonably satisfied that my rights are not being violated, I do not need to adopt any course of action.
When was he contacted by your legal team? What was his defense?
The letter was sent to him on the 27th of May through my legal advisors, Legasis Partners. We have not yet received a response to the letter. However, there are several statements in the news papers which I prefer not to comment on.
Mishra has chosen not to respond to you legally and instead has come out and spoken about the issue publically. How do you feel about his choice of action?
I am not upset that the issue has been spoken about publicly. I however do not approve of the defamatory language used e.g. ‘nobody’, a ‘golddigger’ etc. I also have a family, a friend circle and a reputation. I’ve written a bestselling novel of which there is quite a following on Facebook and it has been critically acclaimed in the US at the Hollywood Book festival in LA in 2009. I’ve also been a script consultant on 4 films.
I wish there would just be a response to the notice, a showing of the script to us and if there is no similarity the matter is over. I hope this is solved with more restraint and reason. And less name calling.
He has claimed that you have defamed him. What have you said to the media about Mishra to make him feel this way?
I have not made any defamatory statements and I do not wish to indulge in name calling or mud slinging. In fact words like ‘Golddigger’, ‘Nobody’, ‘Kid’, ‘Campaign for a ban on him’, ‘Fallen into his own trap’ etc. have been used to refer to me. A golddigger would have quietly, slyly waited for the film to be made and then filed a suit. Then there would be no chance to change the story. Being from the same industry I have sought to make things clear at the very inception.
According to him if you had any grievances you should have contacted him. Did you attempt to contact him and sort out the matter?
Mr. Mishra has not contacted me either. I have woken up one morning to see my story in print with quotes from the director describing the storyline.
Are you worried that you will be barred in the industry and the director claims he will ensure happens?
We survive in this industry with our own hard work, talent and network base. I believe in my abilities. Period.
Ideally what would you like to happen with the script? What kind of an outcome are you looking for?
A happy ending for all. If anyone is doing a story which is substantially similar to mine or based on it, be fair to me, my scripts and my book, if not, prove it and let’s move on.
Do you feel you are being singled out because you do not come from a filmy background?
Do you have any message for Mr. Mishra?