Mission Mangal Plagiarism Controversy: Filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj Says Copyright Infringement Case is Still in Court
Radha Bharadwaj earlier accused Mission Mangal of plagiarism. It was earlier reported that the case had come to a close but apparently the suit is still being litigated as voiced by Bharadwaj recently
Last November, a director approached the Bombay High Court against the Vidya Balan-starrer Mission Mangal, claiming copyright infringement. Filmmaker Radha Bharadwaj filed a lawsuit back then, seeking a stay on the production and release of the movie, which is about India's 2014 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan. In her complaint, Bharadwaj claimed that the Jagan Shakti-helmed film infringes on the copyright of her original screenplay titled 'Space MOMs'. Bharadwaj had reportedly given her screenplay to producer Atul Kasbekar in 2016. The latter’s company signed a non-disclosure agreement that prohibited them from disclosing Bharadwaj's project to anyone without her prior written consent. However, in her suit, Bharadwaj alleged she later came to know that Atul Kasbekar had showed the script to Vidya Balan who he was managing at the time. Agitated at this, Bharadwaj reportedly cancelled the agreement.
She then claimed that the production of Mission Mangal – which released on August 15 this year – was rushed to jeopardise the prospects of her project. Her lawyer Srishti Ojha said that while there are different ways in presenting the story about Mangalyaan, the filmmaker found an angle which focused on the women engineers involved in the mission. She also sought compensation worth INR90 lakh, claiming that she was unable to get buyers for her film because of Mission Mangal. However, according to Mumbai Mirror, Justice Gish Kulkarni, who was looking over the case, stated that Bharadwaj had failed to make her case, adding she was merely pointing out similarities between the script of her film and the trailer of Mission Mangal. Hence, it was reported that the case had come to a close, with Mission Mangal having been supposedly cleared of plagiarism.
It now turns out that this is not true and the suit is still being litigated, as voiced by Bharadwaj in her recent Facebook post.
“I am an independent filmmaker. I have staked my own funds to celebrate India, Indic culture, and Indian women in my feature film Space MOMs, a Film by Radha Bharadwaj, on the women engineers of India's Mars Mission,” she wrote, adding, “I have sued the makers of Bollywood's Mission Mangal for copyright infringement. The suit is still being litigated at the Mumbai High Court.”
Bharadwaj continued, “I am heartsick to see some members of the Indian press now reporting that my lawsuit has been “sorted out." This is untrue. Nothing has been sorted out; the case is still being litigated. I've seen this fake news from India TV, 5 Dariya News, Mashable India and Bollywood Helpline.
As an indie filmmaker, I don't have deep pockets to fight disinformation. In this case, all I have is the truth.” She then requested the media to reach out directly to the concerned authorities instead of making generalised statements on issues. “And all I ask of the press is that they reach out directly to the parties involved to confirm things before pushing fake news. Peddling misinformation doesn't benefit the press, either: it causes public distrust; it tars the image of honest, decent journalists.” Bharadwaj said she needs as much support as possible.
Earlier, Vidya Balan also slammed reports of plagiarising Bharadwaj’s idea when speaking about the same. Talking to Mid-Day, she said, “And, we won the case. Although I never met Radha, her script came to me through my agent. I was offered four films on the same subject. One script that Atul Kasbekar wanted to produce was still at the ideation stage; and there was nothing for me to do in it. Ronnie Screwvala had a similar script with two character options—a 22-year-old and a 55-year-old—I declined it because I fit neither. Each of the scripts gave me the feeling of something missing. Mission Mangal scripted beautiful personal lives for each scientist, the science was simplified, the mission was detailed and I loved it. I was on board as soon as I finished reading. Having spent 15 years in the business, I respect everyone who comes to me and I pride myself for my integrity. Not once have I shared another person's idea with another filmmaker. I am happy truth prevailed.”