Saturday, January 2, 2010

The 4th Idiot?

Being a die-hard Aamir Khan fan I had no intention of missing 3 Idiots. However the whole controversy raised by Chetan Bhagat's claims of being sidelined by the makers of the film has made the viewing of the movie all the more interesting. As far coverage goes, the media as usual is making hay while the sun shines. Media coverage has largely focussed on producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra's outburst asking a member of the media to shut up. But in all the sensationalism an important larger issue has been missed out; that of ownership and due credit.
Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone has been heralded as the biggest English language novel by an Indian author. It was definitely an entertaining read and all credit to Bhagat for writing a book that may have introduced a lot of young Indians to reading. But I saw an interview of Bhagat's last night on the telly where he compared his book to Harry Potter and Twilight. To me therein lies the central problem to this whole issue i.e. Chetan Bhagat seems to think he's on the same level as J K Rowling. The facts are these. The producers of 3 Idiots bought the rights to Bhagat's book and have held the the rights to make a movie of the book for some time. They've made that movie and from all reviews there are fundamental differences from the main story of the book and the plot line of the movie. The credits at the end of the movie mention Chetan Bhagat as the author of the book on which the movie is based. Nitpicking over certain scenes in the movie and comparing them to the book as is happening now through the media is just silly. Television presenters seem to be taking particular pleasure in bandying about numbers like 5% or 80%.
In the age of water tight prenuptial agreements its naive to sign a contract handing over rights to your best seller and then ask for credit through the media. To throw Bhagat's comparison right back at him, J K Rowling had complete control over every aspect of the making of the Harry Potter movies and a share of the profits. Now thats the way it should be done. Chetan Bhagat's previous experience with Bollywood happened to be with the exceedingly generous Salman Khan and involved the least entertaining of his 3 books which was translated onscreen into a flop movie. That exceedingly pleasant initiation into the Bollywood scene and his seemingly innate naivety probably upped his expectations. This whole episode should be treated as a lesson learnt and Mr Bhagat should remember it when he is in negotiations with Karan Johar and ShahRukh Khan for making '2 states- The story of my marriage' into 2011's biggest romantic comedy. Prominently upfront, above title opening credits and a share of the profits; all these should be written into the contract. As far as 3 Idiots is concerned, you know what they say Mr Bhagat, about spilt milk.

1 comment:

vasugupta said...

a good point of view about the whole controversy.. its like sayin" picture flop hui to tumne banayi aur hit ho gayi to maine banayi" :-)