Give Credit Where It’s Due

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The Chetan Bhagat’s credit controversy might be on its way to getting resolved what with the author penning a post in his blog titled Moving to a Solution.

But the whole episode has left authors and directors wanting to do all that it takes to avoid a repeat of the 3 Idiots spat.

Director Ashwni Dhir, whose Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? is inspired by satirist late Sharad Joshi’s “Tum Kab Jaaoge Atithi”, wants to give opening credits to the author. “While penning my film, I had read Sharadji’s piece and had therefore, got a letter of consent from Sharadji’s daughter since the titles are similar. The position of credit has not been specified in the letter of consent. Though our team is yet to decide on the position of the credit line, I have no problems crediting Sharadji in the beginning. I’m also producing a serial on Sharadji’s works titled Lapataganj: Sharad Joshi Ki Kahaniyon Ka Pata. Here, I’ve included Sharadji’s name in the title. Giving due credit to an author adds credibility to my project.”

Director Sooni Taraporevala, who has written the screenplay for the Tabu starrer The Namesake, says that the 3 Idiots controversy wants standardization. “I am a member of the Writers’ Guild of America. In Hollywood contracts, it’s clearly stated that the author has to get the same kind of credit as the director and producer. Irrespective of whether a director has used 90 per cent or 10 per cent of the book, an adaptation can’t be considered an original. In the case of Mira’s film, we had to state right in the beginning that the film is based on “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri,” Taraporevala of Little Zizou fame says, adding, “The position of the author’s credit should not depend on producer’s whims and fancies.

Every author should get his/her opening credits. Like the Oscars, Indian film awards should have separate categories for original screenplays and adaptations.”

Director Abhigyan Jha, who adapted “Sacred Evil” before turning publisher, says authors’ awareness has to increase to avoid spats. “Chetan rolled over when he agreed to take rolling credits for the adaptation of a book. It’s the moral right of an author to be prominently recognised as the creator. How could Chetan then have agreed to rolling credits? Now producers will ask all authors to just take rolling credits and shut up!” Incidentally, when Jha’s “November Rain” was optioned for the Indian television series — Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan, he drew a up a contract where opening credits for authors were mandatory. The contract for “Sacred Evil” had mentioned that if the author Ipsita Roy Chakravarty didn’t like the film, it would not even get released. “My next, “The Prayer”, has been optioned in Hollywood,” Jha adds. Author Advaita Kala, who has co-written Anjana Anjani with Siddharth Anand and is writing Sujoy Ghosh’s next, says that post the 3 Idiots spat, she will be cautious while selling the film rights of her “Almost Single”. “My contract will ensure top credits to me, a line stating ‘based on the novel’ and script approval from my end,” Kala says.

Back in Kolkata, author Sunil Gangopadhyay, whose Moner Manush is now being adapted by Goutam Ghose, says, “I usually never mention in my contracts that my name should come in the opening credits. But henceforth, I might insist on that.”

In an industry used to rip-offs, buying rights is a relatively new concept. The onus is now on authors to be more professional and learn to protect their intellectual rights without the risk of being written off!

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