‘Gulabo Sitabo' writer accused of plagiarism, production house calls allegation 'baseless'

Mumbai, Jun 6 (PTI) Writer Juhi Chaturvedi has been accused by late writer Rajeev Agarwal's son, Akira, of plagiarising his father's story for her upcoming film 'Gulabo Sitabo', a claim the production house behind the project termed 'baseless.' Juhi has written the story, screenplay and dialogues for the Shoojit Sircar directorial, featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan and actor Ayushmann Khurrana. It is backed by Rising Sun Films.

Rajeev had submitted his story in 'Cinestaan India’s Storyteller Script Contest', of which Juhi was a jury member, claimed Akira's lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee.

The story was submitted in March 2018 and shortlisted. On June 28 the same year, the final script was also submitted for the contest and all jury members had full access to the same, said Siddiquee.

According to the lawyer, Akira was shocked to find similarities between “Gulabo Sitabo' and his father's story when he saw the trailer of the film. He claimed the story, background and theme of the movie looked similar to his father’s script.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Rising Sun Films said Juhi's concept for ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ was registered in 2018, much before the contest.

'Furthermore, Juhi never received a copy of the supposedly copied script. This has been independently confirmed by the script writing contest organisers as well.

'Our film’s story is different from that sent out in the notice. It is surprising how grave allegations are being made solely on the basis of a 2 minute 41 second trailer,' the banner said in the statement.

Siddiquee said Akira approached Screenwriters Association (SWA) for mediation, which then asked Juhi to submit her script.

The lawyer claimed the writer denied that she had access to the script, even though it was mentioned in the terms and conditions of 'Cinestaan India’s Storyteller Script Contest'.

'In all fairness, she was still called upon to submit her work for verification and authentication, however she refuses to do so, despite lapse of more than 12 days. Also she is being extremely evasive and lying on records, thereby denying apparent facts as seen in the trailer of 'Gulabo Sitabo,'' Siddiquee said in a statement.

According to Rising Sun Films, the SWA ruled in favour of Juhi on May 29 and said the 'allegers are upset as the SWA decision didn’t go in their favour.' 'Releasing the notice to the press, harassing us on social media, seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign Juhi and damage the film. We have full faith in our film. At this time, when we have taken the bold decision to release the film on OTT, these baseless allegations only create unnecessary controversy,' the statement from the banner further read.

Siddiquee said SWA is directly associated with 'Cinestaan India’s Storyteller Script Contest' and promotes it, therefore the 'association is not the right body to mediate, arbitrate or adjudicate on any matter concerning the contest.' 'These acts of willful commissions and omissions speak for itself therefore a Police Complaint against Juhi Chaturvedi, Shoojit Sircar and the production house for breach of trust, cheating and copyright infringement has been filed,' he said. Chaturvedi has penned acclaimed films like 'Vicky Donor', 'October' and 'Piku', all directed by Shoojit.

'Gulabo Sitabo' is currently gearing up for its premiere on Amazon Prime Video on June 12. PTI JUR KKP SHD SHD