Juhi Chaturvedi on 'Gulabo Sitabo' plagiarism allegation: It's my original work and I’m proud of it

Mumbai, Jun 7 (PTI) Days after Juhi Chaturvedi was accused by late writer Rajeev Agarwal's son, Akira, of plagiarising his father's story for her upcoming film 'Gulabo Sitabo', the writer has rubbished the allegation and said the movie is her original work. 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.

Akira's lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee had claimed that Rajeev had submitted his story in ''Cinestaan India's Storyteller Script Contest''— promoted by the Screenwriters Association (SWA)—of which Juhi was a jury member and thus had access to the story.

Juhi said back in 2017, she had shared the idea of a 'crooked old man' with Bachchan who had asked the writer to develop the story.

'My conscience is clear and so are the facts in this matter.'Gulabo Sitabo' is my original work and I am proud of it. I shared the idea with the director and lead actor of the film in early 2017. I subsequently registered the concept note for the film in May 2018,' she said in a statement.

The writer denied having any access 'to the so-called infringed script at any point in time.' Juhi said the same has been independently confirmed by Cinestaan as well as the SWA, 'who has looked at this dispute in May, 2020 and decided in my favour.' 'I speak now to request the press and public not to be disillusioned by false accusations, which are for publicity only. Acts of harassment, defamatory comments, and leaking confidential notices by the accusers only show their lack of faith in their own case. I stand by my truth,' she added.

Siddiquee had earlier said Akira had approached SWA for mediation, which then asked Juhi to submit her script.

The lawyer claimed Juhi denied that she had access to Rajeev's script, '16, Mohandas Lane', even though it was mentioned in the terms and conditions of ''Cinestaan India's Storyteller Script Contest''. However, Anjum Rajabali, Jury Chairman, Cinestaan Script Contest, said Juhi had 'absolutely no access to this particular script.' Rajabali said the contest was divided into three stages and the jury—including superstar Aamir Khan, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, Juhi—had access to only the final top eight scripts.

'While ’16, Mohandas Lane’ made it to the top 20, it did not enter the final list of 8 scripts which were sent to the jury. The jury, including Juhi, had absolutely no access to any script except for the 8 which were sent to them. So, it is totally incorrect to assume that since Juhi Chaturvedi was on the contest’s jury she had received the said script,' he added.

Producer Ronnie Lahiri of Rising Sun Films said the controversy seemed to be a 'deliberate attempt to malign' Juhi and damage the film.

'At this time, when we have taken the bold decision to release the film on OTT, these baseless allegations only create unnecessary controversy,' he added.

Juhi 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 SHD SHD