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HC’s interim stay on release of film ‘Phir Se’

Bombay High Court

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court has put interim stay on the release of movie ‘Phir Se’ directed by Kunal Kohli, after the court found prima facie similarities between the film’s script and another movie ‘R.S.V.P’.

Justice S C Gupte was hearing a suit filed by writer Jyoti Kapoor alleging copyright infringement and breach of confidence against Kohli and production house Bombay Film Company.

According to Kapoor, in 2010 she had written a script for movie titled ‘R.S.V.P’ and registered it with the Film Writers Association. In 2013, she met director-producer Kunal Kohli who showed an interest in her script. However, the two could not arrive at an agreement following which Kapoor approached another production house which agreed to make her film.

In 2014, Kapoor came across newspaper articles about Kunal Kohli launching a new film ‘Phir Se’. From the articles and Kohli’s interviews, Kapoor realised that Kohli had used her screenplay.

Kapoor lodged a complaint with the FWA and Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) and also issued a notice to Kohli. In November 2014, a Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of IMPPA issued notice to Kohli directing him to stop shooting of the movie ‘Phir Se’ till the matter is resolved.

Despite the notice from IMPPA, Kohli went ahead with the shooting of the movie. Following this, Kapoor approached the High Court.

According to the defendants, the setting, the treatment and the climax of the film ‘Phir Se’ are completely different from ‘R.S.V.P.’. They further claim that in the past, several movies have been made similar to ‘R.S.V.P’ and hence, Kapoor’s script was not novel.

The court, after perusing the script of both the movies, observed that the script of ‘R.S.V.P’ can be appropriately termed as ‘novel’ or ‘unique’.

“The plaintiffs seem to have an arguable case that Kohli actually used the screenplay of ‘R.S.V.P’, shared with him by Kapoor, for producing the film ‘Phir Se’. The essential elements of the screenplay of ‘R.S.V.P’ appear to have been used in the defendants’ film ‘Phir Se’,” Justice Gupte said.

He observed that the uncanny similarities of characteristics of the protagonists of the two films, the overall plot, the approach of society to their divorces, their quest for partners, their coming together only to develop doubts, later, then drifting apart and once again coming together makes an arguable case in favour of Kapoor.

The bench, while granting an interim injunction on release of the movie last week, directed the matter to be listed for final hearing on July 1.

‘Phir Se’, which marks the debut of Kohli as the male lead and Jennifer Winget as female lead, was slated for release this year.

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