At this point, Shirish Kunder appears to have come up trumps in his battle against the makers of Nepali short film Bob, who accused the filmmaker of having plagiarised their film to make his recently released, controversial short film Kriti.
According to a press release sent out by its producers Muvizz.com, in light of what they're terming a "false copyright claim" and their inability to provide sufficient proof within 15 days to back up their allegations against, Kriti is now back on YouTube about three weeks after it was pulled down for violating said claim. Bob, which was also taken down over a similar claim by Muvizz.com, continues to be off YouTube as well as Vimeo.
Moreover, Kunder was quoted as saying that they have bigger plans for his short, which starred Manoj Bajpayee, Radhika Apte, and Neha Sharma. "Today after nearly 3 Million people watching it and film getting global audience from places like Brazil, Poland, Egypt, Israel, and many more countries, Muvizz.com and I have decided to double out efforts and showcase more of Kriti to our audience through the format of a web series or a feature film," he said.
They have also sought Rs 5 crore in damages from the team of Bob, directed by Aneel Neupane and produced by Jazz Productions. On June 24, Neupane wrote a Facebook status that went viral, pointing out the similarities in plot, production design, and even dialogue between the two — a claim that appeared credible to many who watched both films (including ourselves).
Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, who has been handling the case for Muvizz.com, stated that Neupane had "continuously failed to substantiate his claims and was only relying on evidence which can be easily manipulated with, for obvious reasons". In a press conference, the makers of Kriti had not only rubbished the allegations, saying that their film had been shot three months before Bob was uploaded on YouTube, but instead rebounded the blame, claiming that it was perhaps Kriti that had been plagiarised.
"This case has become a cause for concern for filmmakers all over the world, as they need to understand that their work can not only be easily copied by fraudsters, but also evidence can be easily manipulated by such fraudsters if the said matter is not handled in a proper manner," said Siddiquee, in the press release.
Neupane, on his part, has not given up the fight. On July 10, he'd held a press conference in Kathmandu announcing that he had sent a legal notice to Kunder, Muvizz.com, and Bajpayee (who came out strongly in support of the film) and sought a compensation of Rs 25 lakh.
Meanwhile, a Facebook post written by Basavaraj Itnal — a Bangalore-based filmmaker who claims to have been Kunder's senior at their engineering college in Dharwad, Karnataka — has been gaining some traction. In it, Itnal, who has revealed unflattering details about Kunder in college and said that he was the only person on campus who spoke to the filmmaker, has said:
"Can we tell for sure if Shirish stole from Anil? Not really. But the premise is the same. There are some differences in detailing of the script but it is the same film narrated slightly differently. So theft or no theft, what gives away shirish is the way he treated Anil forgetting the fact that all his life he has done only manipulative acts to garner attention and to get people do things for him –while he never had any creative merit."
Safe to say that this has gotten uglier than anyone ever expected.
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