3 Idiots, Five Point Someone and the turth – Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat’s Blog post on what he calls ‘The Truth’. Is this yet another case of Plagiarism in Bollywood? We haven’t read the book, so can’t comment but those who have, call it a copy, not even an adaptation. 


Dear All,

The 3 Idiots story credit issue has been making some noise now. The news is coming out in bits and pieces, and I think it is important I clarify a few things. Yes, clearly, the makers of the film have been unfair and thousands of my readers have been saying so. I am aware of this, and this is not an issue that has ‘just come up’. I’ve been grappling with it for two years, but kept silent about it.

The only reason it has surfaced after the movie’s release is because Five Point Someone has a few million readers, and when you copy a popular story claiming it as ‘original’ and ‘completely different’, people are going to find out. People did, and so did a lot of media journalists.

The case is as simple as the makers claiming the story as their own, and clearly it is not. Pre-release, the makers made press statements like the movie is only ‘very loosely’, ‘2%-5% inspired by the book’. After release, those who have read the book and seen the movie (and frankly, I think those are the only people who have the right to comment) find the film to be an adaptation of Five Point Someone. The setting, characters, plotline, dramatic twists and turns, one-liners, theme, message – almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that – but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have privately admitted to me that the film is 70% the book. Still, don’t take my word for it – go read the book, watch the film.

I, frankly, was shocked to see this. This is because I was also fed ‘this is an original movie’ line a lot. I wanted to see the final script – it was never shown to me. I wanted to see the film before release – it was not shown to me (even though trials had been done for people). What’s more, the makers had called me to their office and pressured me several times to withdraw my ‘Based on a novel by’ credit, which was by contract. They told me they’d replace it with something like ‘initiated by’ – a credit that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. I still told them that if the film is indeed original, I’ll happily withdraw the credit, but somehow the promos don’t tell me so. I asked them to show me the film and they fell silent.

Soon, they started doing media promotions for the film, and kept me completely out of it (you’ll never find me in an interview with them). Crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that 3 Idiots is not based on Five Point Someone. However, the book had been read by millions of people and the FPS buzz just did not die down.

Ten days before the release, I was called into their office. They said ‘we should be friends now’. I said I am always up for friendship, and the success of the film is good for me as well. They also said, and I quote verbatim ‘even though this is an original film, we have given you a great credit, right upfront. After all, we love writers and a king should treat another king with respect. You are family’. I believed them.

I called my family before release, and told them all not to expect FPS. I even gave a few interviews where I said don’t expect FPS.

Then I went for the premiere. My family sat in the theatre shocked, as sequence after sequence came from the book. 2%-5% means 3-6 minutes, and I had told my family to look for the few FPS moments and note them. However, there were so many that it became impossible to keep track. The plot line was same – people meet at ragging, the first class with definition of machine, the friends separate, Alok (Raju) moves with Venkat (Chatur), Ryan (Rancho) helps Alok’s father, Alok rejoins group etc etc. From Alok (Raju) jumping to stealing the papers and calling out from Cherian (Virus’) office – the book came alive on screen. I was surprised and happy that FPS has made it in such a grand way.

However, my family had not spotted my credit in the beginning (there was none) and they were feeling let down. A screenplay associate credit to VVC had a prominent upfront placement. The story credit was not shared with me. And yes, all the office talk of a ‘king treated like king’ was a white lie.

I knew they had played with me, and that ‘based on a novel by’ credit, which they were legally bound to give would be hushed away at the end – with the clear intention of making sure people miss it. And indeed, it came after the junior artists and still photographer of the movie, and zoomed away fast. My own mother missed seeing my name, and for that she cried after seeing the film. I told her it doesn’t matter, as people know FPS. But yes, that hurt me a lot.

I went up to the makers after the premiere, and they said it is a hit so chill and forget about it. I guess I could, but it is hard. Only a writer or a creative person knows how this feels. I am one of the lucky ones that people have read FPS. Imagine the fate of other writers in Bollywood. Anyway, I came home and thanked God for making my story reach so many people.

Upon the film’s release – my mailbox and twitter account, literally became flooded. Fans and readers wrote stunned mails. They had seen the makers’ interviews which had denied FPS links and they missed seeing the credit on screen. I kept quiet, though I did send a message to the makers telling them audience reactions. They did not respond. Soon media journalists saw the film. They called me and said they have to do a story on this as they are on my side. I tried my best to avoid them. However, many have helped me in the past and I can’t avoid their call forever. One HT journalist from Delhi called, and asked me how I felt about the credit. I used one word – I said ‘strange’. And that’s when the news exploded.

This my friends, is the story. Meanwhile, the makers have accused me of seeking fame – when clearly it is the other way round. They’ve taken my story to make fame for themselves, and shut me out of it. I know my readers will spot it immediately. However, the film also reaches millions of other people who do not read books – and they deserve to know who wrote the story. And that is why I am talking about this issue (and I admit for people who’ve read the book, they may wonder it’s so obvious so why I am going on about it).

I hope my explanation helps. I do have a few additional points to make.

  • This has nothing to do with Mr. Aamir Khan – while the makers are fronting him to talk about the issue (as he has the credibility), this is not about him at all. I am a big fan of Aamir and he has made my story reach people. However, he was told by the makers not to read the book, and he hasn’t. Thus, he cannot comment on the issue in a meaningful manner. The media should stop questioning him. When I met him, both of us were told that the movie is original and not the book. He was asked not to read the book – and I wasn’t shown the script. Go figure.
  • I don’t need this kind of fame – It doesn’t do anything for me. Like I said, I am lucky to have channels to express my opinion. Other writers don’t. I can’t tell you how much it hurts when this happens. Imagine someone takes your child, dresses him up and tells the world it is theirs. I’ve felt the pain for two years on this issue but I kept silent on it. I can’t help it if millions have read the book and see the movie upon release and spot the issue themselves.
  • I don’t want anything from them – They’ve taken the story credit. Let them keep it. All Bollywood award functions have an award for ‘story’, apart from other categories. They’ll collect it all year around and feel good about it. I didn’t write the story for awards. I wrote it as I felt I had something to say about the education system and the race for grades. I have my fans’ love and I am more than happy with it.
  • The odds – They have an army of people to promote their side of the story, crores of media budgets and are sparing no efforts to bring me down. The only thing I have is my fans, and the truth. But then, the truth is Krishna, and the Pandavas had only that while there was an army on the other side. Remember who won that battle?

Some people have told me that I should keep silent. I did try to be silent but didn’t work. Also, people say this is how Bollywood works. Sorry, I disagree. Not all Bollywood works like this. There are a lot of good people too. And every event like this helps change things for the better. And that is what I am all about anyway.

I urge you to not believe me at face value. Read the book, see the movie – and like the movie says – think for yourself and decide.

I want to thank the media journalists who are supporting me. Yes, the makers on the other side have a lot of stature – but truth comes above stature – that’s the first rule of journalism. I salute you for having the courage to stick to that. Our country does have free press, and thank God for that.

Like I said, I don’t need anything. Even if I have no more movies made on my stories or nobody wants to read my books and columns, I’ll happily join ISKCON and dedicate my life to Krishna.

But I will not shy away from the truth – ever.





  • It’s really sad I have read chetan FPS and TWO STATES but it’s was clear from the trailor that 3 idiots is based
    on FPS as the scene were shown in the trailors I have not seen 3 idiots but my friends said that it’s almost similar to the novel I feel sad for chetan that the credit is not given to him HE is the creator yaar he should get the credit.Raj kumar hirani said in one of the interview that he has just taken the plot of FPS and he and his friend I dn’t remember the name but he used to stay in abroad and used to discuss the story as he said but after the movie is released every one knows the truth all I WANT TO SAY TO CHETAN IS THAT UR FANS STANDS ON YOUR SIDE.

  • @everyone
    Dont blame Aamir.
    It is clearly stated that he was not behind it.
    Few weeks back there was news moving around “Aamir does not like the script of 3 idiots”.
    So this proves Aamir did not approve the script.
    Its vidhu chopra movie.He is the culprit.

  • this is a huge shame on Vidhu Vinod Chopra that he and his unit didn’t give credit to Chetan Bhagat. I think almost 60 percent of the theme is copied (so called inspired) from “Five Point Someone” and they didn’t give credit to Chetan Bhagat. It’s very unfair, they are collecting crores by stealing Chetan’s thinking and they even didn’t give him a single credit……it’s a huge embarrassment. It’s a huge crime infact. It’s unfair. Though I am a huge fan of Aamir khan and VVC, I am not going to support these guys now…coz I can not support the plagiarist.

  • I have read the book and almost all characters are made of the book. They used ti go on the terrace to drink, here it has shown as a water tank. The hero falls in love with the teachers daughter. They were drunk when they once sat in the class of the college and many more scenes As rightly Chetan sir says quite a lot of thoughts and scenes are copied from the book and Mr Chetan Bhagat should be given criedit for the story. And also many people just went to watch the movie because they have read the book and wanted to see how it was picturized , it was really good but certainly lacked credit to Mr Bhagat. Sir you rock we are your true Fans and will continue to read your books and columns forever.

  • I liked both 3I and FPS, AND I can say that credited should be given to CB.
    Those who havent read the novel, following are the similarities

    1. ragging scene

    2.classroom scene, defination of machine

    3.going to sharman house for dinner(even conversation is same as it is in the book)

    4.sharman going with chatur for studying

    5 taking sharman father to hospital

    6.rejoining of all friends

    7. kareena giving keys to aaamir

    8. stealing papers from the office and then getting caught.

    9. interview scene

    there may be more, I can recall only those

  • Umesh and others,

    I am just trying to analyze things being unbiased with movie and book…
    Similarity with 10 odd scenes in a screenplay of 100+ scenes doesn’t make the movie to be a complete copy of the book. Even if you count these scenes by time in 3 hr movie, they would be about 15 minutes which is 5% of the movie and so that’s what Hirani said all along in his interviews that movie was just 5% of the book.
    People who have watched the movie and have read the book will find that its theme is very different from FPS – FPS was just anecdotal – random scenes about life of 3 students in engineering college, did you realize it ended so abruptly? While, 3i has a theme – to highlight short comings in the education system and prove the point that if you chase excellence, success will follow and so whole story was built around these themes, FPS didn’t have any of these things.
    Chetan Bhagat would have got good money for selling rights and as VVC mentioned he was promised a bonus also if movie became hit and which has been given to him. To me, it seems like a classic case of someone trying to share glory as movie is a huge hit now. But did he come out in the media to give interviews and boast that Hello was also based on his book “A night at call center”? No, he didn’t because Hello was disgrace and so was the book. Likewise, FPS is also not that great book, (Agree that it was good page turner and good time but that nothing beyond good time pass! ), it is the craftmanship of Hirani and Aamir that has taken the story of FPS to a new level and Chetan Bhagat has no contribution in this ascent and hence no right to claim glory!

  • just one word for it pathetic, never ever expected from a guy like Rajkumar Hirani, I think Chetan should sue vidhu vinod chopra and raj kumar hirani.

  • Difference between 3 Idiots and the book.

    1). FPS (Five point someone) dealth only with the college life of 3 friends. 3i dealt with their lives after the college years as well. It dealt with the search of 3rd friend.

    2). In FPS – Ryan (aka rancho in 3i) is not a topper. In 3i, he is shown as a genuis and a topper.

    3). In FPS – Hari (aka farhaan in 3i) falls in love with Neha (aka pia in 3i) and even makes love to her during the college life. In 3i – this plot is completely different.

    4). There were no songs in FPS ( ) – in 3i….well.

    5). All those detailed dialogues and screenplay – one can’t say that it is a line-by-line copy of the book.

    These are few striking differences I feel at the moment – in the nutshell, Chetan’s allegation that 70% of the book is reflected in the film is NOT TRUE at the same time – makers’ claim (that is if they have claimed that – we know this now only from Chetan’s mouth) that only 2-3% of the book reflects in the movie – that is ALSO NOT TRUE.

  • I feel really sad, how Film Industry wala’s plan and plot to take away Credit from a Best Seller author, if Chetan Bhagat meets such a fate, then what would really be the fate of Hundreds of such Struggling Writers.

  • I think, the movie makers have given due credit to Chetan & Chetan’s claim of being movie total makeover of FPS is a REALIZATION after seeing movie’s huge success even goin beyond his book. Being a well educated person this wasnt expected by Chetan… sorry to say so..

  • @Amit Singhania

    “Vidhu vinod chopra is a born loser..never directed a hit movie..CHETAN BHAGAT ROCKS…this is wht makes SALLU ND AKKI LOVED SO LOVABLE WITH MASSES.honesty.aamir srk just want money money..big thumbs down to aamir khan”

    Hello is based on Chetan Bhagat’s ‘One Night at a Call Centre’
    Salman’s Mujse Shaadi Karoge ,Phir Milenge,Salaam-e-Ishq, Partner and God Tussi Great Ho ! were rip offs from Hollywood.
    Wanted is a remake of a Tamil Movie.
    One of his Next project is a remake of another Tamil movie.

    What honesty man ??? hes doing this for money only….

  • I saw 3 idiots yesterday in theatre.Whether its an adaptation of FPS is different but the ragging scene was nothing new as every hosteller would have undergone that.Next the fountain pen thing was a cold war joke when USSR used pencil as against Pen.And when the 4th guy recites a hindi verse as he does not know hindi did not make me laugh, neither did making fun of a man who is affected by stroke.so basically the director just compiled few scenes and shaped it over FPS and made a movie.As simple as that…

  • VIDHU vinod chopra is a main culprit here . CHETAN BHAGAT is a great writer . VIDHU should be apologise to chetan bhagat .

  • CHETAN BHAGAT should be get credit for the script .BUT VIDHU idiot just ignore him famous writer like a chetan bhagat .

  • VIDHU VINOD CHOPRA is a stock broker script thief . HE is a flop director . H e made

    mission kashmir – disaster

    eklavya – disaster

  • I think aamir khan can change the matter . He should be restrict himself for any comment for chetan bhagat. Chetan bhagat is great human being .

  • I think aamir khan can change the matter . He should be restrict himself for any comment for chetan bhagat. Chetan bhagat is great human being . thanks

  • Please take him to court and let the judge decide…I have read the book and seen the movie 3 times …Never pardon the film maker…becoz somewhere this stealing in bolywood has to stop and undue credit is being taken those who doesn’t deserve…Please file a case and get the due credit ….. Chetan really deserves the credit…Chetan I was quite surprised why you kept mum for such a long time….

  • I think chetan is quite hungry for publiccity the word used by Amir is quite rght…nothing more than that.There was no point crying now if the film was copy or wasnt.

  • Aamir comes in defence of HIRANI and CHOPRA saying the creator of the script abhijeet and hirani should get the credit and not chetan bhagat since 3I is just the adaption and the main script writers should get the credit it’s really sad that Aamir is coming on the wrong side SOURCE DNE NEWSPAPER 2/1/10.

  • I don’t know………… what is wrong with aamir khan movies,
    every time there must be a contoversy.
    This time much bigger……………………………….
    I have never read the book FPS, but always heard of it.
    After the premier of 3I , Mr. Chetan Bhagat was interviewd on ZOOM television with Prasson joshi, he was asked about the movie , then his reply came in as It was good movie, but there are scenes which looks extreme,which not always happens in real life.
    He also stated that, its not a complete copy of FPS.
    Then, what went wrong after one week.
    As, we all know that there was another movie which was based on chetan bahgat novel it was HELLO, salman khan -starrer, It was not a big hit. Then no body came in to fight for the justice.
    Inspite of fighting one – one with taking media in lime light nothing gonaa happen………….
    Its a fight of Mr. Chetan Bhagat and VVC. Please make it face to face and resolve the issue. So that we all a can say ‘ALL IZ WELL’

  • HI there all you Aamir haters!
    Today raju hirani handed all the documents to th media about 3 i and chetan bhagat,and its crystal clear that he is lyin he thot let me make some money out of it,if he is so sure about that he has been betrayed why dont he want to go court????i admire raju hirani the guy is modest guy am not here defendin vvc or even aamir am defendin hirani and belev me he has shawn film script to that bhagat(do u knw wot bhagat name meANS)that guy is liability!they have paid him money and abhijat joshi and hirani worked 3 years on the film so credit goes to them not to chetan bhagat!if he thinks he is being used or betrayed go ti court THE DOORS ARE OPEN!!why he is reluctant not to court and fight his case!
    Indicine team please stop tryn to defend chetan bhagat,am not here defendin vvc or aamir trust me i feel for hirani and if u askd any1 in the industry about hirani or abhijat joshi they all wud say these guys are modest humans!STOP DEFENDIN CHETAN BHAGAT!

  • Nomaan:
    >its crystal clear that he is lyin he thot let me make some money out of it

    You haven’t understood the issue at hand at all. Chetan isn’t disputing the rights to use his story. His only issue is with the way Hirani and Joshi have been projected as the writers of the Story. I am no great fan of Chetan Bhagat, but he does have a point.

    if you have used about 20-30% (leave alone 70% as claimed by CB) of the story, then why claim it as ‘your own’, and put the Story credit in the opening in your name and leave the ‘based on’ credit to the end, where no one will see it?

    If Hirani and Joshi would’ve been credited with Screen Play,that’d be right. If they had given the opening credit to Chetan Bhagat, that too would’ve been ok.

    But, the best thing would’ve been to say “Story : Bhagat, Hirani & Joshi”… Because they all contributed to the story, not just the two.

    Courts can only deal with the letter of the law, this isn’t letter of law.. This is basic Ethics.

  • very ture ,the movie is adopted from the book i had read the book and saw the movie and feel that.
    amir should support chetan
    i thought the movie is70 to 80% based on novel

  • Its not that difficult to make a movie based on theme. Film makes have taken the base line from FPS and few scenes and made 3i. Its crystal clear.

  • Aamir is the best. He does not have to prove a thing to any of you. Five point someone book has been inspired by a book so CB get a life!

  • Hi, I’m not from India (Ph) but I think Chetan should have been credited for the movie. I would have never known that 3 idiots, which I enjoyed very much, is based from FPS. An Indian colleague overheard us talking about the movie and told us about the book. I was surprised that the movie didn’t credit the book, so I searched the net and found this.

    Based on the similarities, Chetan should have been credited so that at least foreign viewers of the film are also made aware of the book.

    I like them both.

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