Did Murugadoss Steal Kaththi's Story? How? [Gopi Interview Video]

After rigorous protests before the release and a defamation case after its release, a man now claims that Kaththi's story was stolen fro...

After rigorous protests before the release and a defamation case after its release, a man now claims that Kaththi's story was stolen from him and that he had written the original story which had been titled as 'Muthakudi'.

Gopi, the man claiming to have penned the story has taken the issue to a court in Chennai seeking justice. Here is what he had to say, " After writing the story, I narrated it to the producer cum director Vishwas Sundar who was accompanied by a man named Jagan. After hearing the story, Vishwas told me that he currently is not in a position to bring the story alive on-screen. But, Jagan who expressed his interest in the story said that he will arrange a meeting with producer-director AR Murugadoss who will be able to give life to the story.

Did Murugadoss Steal Kaththi's Story?

After a few days he took me to AR Murugadoss who was impressed with the story. Murugadoss told me that he will direct this movie with Ajith in the lead but he wanted the hero to play a dual role and hence, I modified the story accordingly.

After harnessing the story for more than a year, AR Murugadoss suddenly informed me that he will not be able to direct the movie at the moment. After a few days, Murugadoss and his team was seen in Kolkata for an inauguration ceremony of a movie named Kaththi which had Vijay in dual roles.

When I heard the news, I contacted the concerned people who assured me that this is a different story and that AR Murugadoss will definitely direct the story narrated by me with Ajith in the lead once he is done with Kaththi. But only when Kaththi was released, I realized that it was indeed my story 'Muthakudi' with minor adjustments. Not knowing what to do, I took the issue to the court who surprisingly dismissed the case. Hence, I have taken the issue to The High Court hoping for justice"

But Murugadoss has denied the claims and has said he has not even seen the man before. "It is because of money, why people come up with such claims. Only I know what difficulty I had to go through in scripting the story. The case has been dismissed in the court and any further issues related to this will be dealt legally" said the Kaththi director before signing off.

Getting credits right

An interview to an online channel was all it took for struggling filmmaker N. Gopi to trigger a necessary debate on the issue of plagiarism and the vulnerability of writers in the absence of legal contracts and non-disclosure agreements.

Since Thursday, Gopi's interview, in which he speaks about how Kaththi’s story, credited to arguably the highest-paid filmmaker of Tamil cinema, A.R. Murugadoss, was allegedly stolen from him, has been widely shared online.

Even if Gopi’s version is disproved, the fact remains that struggling filmmakers are sitting ducks as they have no option but to narrate their scripts to multiple producers, thereby putting their intellectual property in the public space without any legal safeguards.

The industry’s response has been that allegations of intellectual theft are not unique to Tamil cinema. However, what the industry lacks are the institutions that can resolve these issues.

Sashikanth of Y Not Studios says such conflicts will continue to haunt the industry unless standard processes, such as clear legal contracts, are adopted across the board. “The system today operates purely on trust. I have known producers who only knew that their film was plagiarised from a foreign film after its release. This issue has, fortunately, created a space for having such conversations about the need for contracts where the filmmaker attests that the content is original, and to create awareness about how copyrights can be protected,” he says.

However, industry insiders say it does not make sense that an influential producer would sign a non-disclosure agreement with a struggling filmmaker before reading/listening to a script.

“One has to take a leap of faith that nobody would steal your script,” says filmmaker Deekay who claims to have narrated the script of his super-hit film, Yaamirukka Bayamey, to ‘at least 20 people’ before landing a producer. He says, “When you are yet to make a film, one is often asked not create a fuss when ideas are lifted by big names. How does one take on powerful names in the industry?” he asks.

Then, there are the grey areas. A.R. Murugadoss has refused to comment on the allegations, saying he has been advised to remain silent as the case is up for hearing soon.

However, sources close to him have raised a few questions: Why didn’t Gopi talk about the details of his script before the release of the Kaththi? Also, they ask why Gopi cannot come up with a single bit of proof of correspondence between A.R. Murugadoss and himself despite his claims of knowing him well for over a year?

A source close to A.R. Murugadoss says that movies based on real-life scenarios always have similarities. “India is filled with stories of farmers fighting against corporates. It’s entirely possible that two people could get inspired to write a script on the same subject.”

The courts will probably have the last word on the issue. K. Rajasekaran, advocate and president, Intellectual Property Rights Bar Association, says the problem arises when the original work is not registered with the copyright registry, “Infringement can be found out if there is substantial reproduction such as punch dialogues, scene and sequences. Normally, injunctions are granted the moment the court knows there is prima facie infringement,” he says.

Can the Tamil Nadu Film Directors’ Union ban filmmakers found guilty of plagiarism?

“At the moment, there exists no such rule. If the concerned parties decide to accept the decisions of the union, we will look into the case,” says its secretary R.K. Selvamani.

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