The controversy over Aamir Khan’s ‘3 Idiots’ dragging the star, the producer and author Chetan Bhagat, whose novel was the basis for the successful film, escalated on Friday with the media caught in an ugly crossfire and was told to ‘shut up’ amid high drama.
An upset Aamir at a press meet in Kolkata and in Noida, trained his guns on Bhagat accusing him of being hungry for publicity after the author pointed fingers at the star and the makers of the blockbuster for not giving him due credit.
Aamir accused Bhagat of trying to take away the credit from the film’s scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi, who the star said was working on the script for three years.
He also said publicity-seeking people were trying to generate a controversy.
In his response, Bhagat called Khan and the filmmakers — producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Director Rajkumar Hirani — as ‘uncivilised people’ and rejected allegations that he was hankering for publicity.
“They are making a fool of themselves,” he said. The press meet of the film crew in Noida turned ugly when their reaction was sought on Bhagat’s allegation against them.
Chopra lost his cool when a journalist said the film was similar to the book. When Chopra asked that journalist whether he has read the book, he replied in negative after which the producer asked him to shut up.
Aamir also inquired from the journalist whether he had read the book. When Chopra’s outbursts were strongly objected to by the assembled media, Aamir asked him to apologize but the producer refused
An angry Chopra said, “Aamir had asked me to take the legal course before but now after all this furore I am really angry and I might take a legal action.”
“We have signed a very defined contract with Chetan stating his name would appear in the rolling credits of the film. We are going to upload the agreement on vidhuvinodchopra website,” Chopra said.
“Chetan is the only person with whom I signed a contract. I had told Raju (director) earlier that this guy is going to create problems later,” he added.
Hirani, who has previously directed films like ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ and ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai ‘ for Chopra’s banner also tried to pacify the media.
“I want you to recount each and every scene with me from the beginning till the climax and tell me where is it similar to the book (Five Point Someone). There are so many scenes which have nothing to do with the book. I would be very honest that the film has only five per cent of the book and Chetan had read the script and approved of it,” Hirani said.
Aamir said that he was told by Chopra and Hirani not to comment on the issue but he felt ‘hurt’ that ‘Hirani’s credibility is being questioned.’
“I have nothing to do with this issue. I am the non-interested party but I know Hirani and Abhijat both very closely and I have seen them slogging on the script for last three years. This guy (Hirani) has made Munnabhai films. How can you question him without knowing the whole story?” Aamir said.
Earlier Chetan Bhagat, the author of the book from which the movie has been adapted, accusing the filmmakers and actor Aamir Khan of not giving him due credit.
Bhagat said that 70 per cent of the film ‘3 Idiots’ is based on his novel ‘Five Point Someone’, contradicting Aamir’s claim that he was trying to take away the credit from the film’s scriptwriter, Abhijat Joshi.
“From the very beginning the film has been promoted on the lines that it is based on ‘Five Point Someone’ but when I saw the film, I found out that my name was nowhere to be seen in the credit line,” Chetan Bhagat told PTI (Press Trust of India).
Aamir, who plays the lead in the Rajkumar Hirani directed film, had said, “Abhijat has written the script and Raju Hirani worked on it. Raju and Abhijat took the idea from Chetan’s book. The starting point is ‘Five Point Someone’, but after that the script has been completely changed.”
But Bhagat has a different take on it, saying that the credit for the story has been given to Abhijat and Hirani while he has been left out entirely.
“For the past two years I have trusted Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir blindly and this is what I get in return. Now I am being threatened with legal action but I am ready for it,” Bhagat said.
The raging controversy over the credit for the story in ‘3 Idiots’ escalated on Saturday with director Rajkumar Hirani [ Images ] accusing author Chetan Bhagat [ Images ] of “lying” despite agreeing to several conditions, including a rolling credit in a contract.
Hirani, who also shares the writing credit with scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi in the Aamir Khan-starrer, said Bhagat had approved the film’s script and agreed to the condition that it would be different from his book.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai [ Images ], Hirani showed the contract signed with Bhagat, whose novel “Five Point Someone” became the basis for the film. The director said he had made a four-hour narration of the script to the author.
“We never denied Bhagat the credit. I am confused as to why is he saying all these things after the film’s release. We have not stolen the story, we have purchased the rights of the book and can modify or change it as per our requirements. There is nothing illegal in it. Chetan is lying,” Hirani said.
He said that as per the contract signed between Bhagat and producers of the film, it was obligatory on part of the latter to mention in rolling credits that the film was based the novel.
“His name appears immediately after the main cast in the rolling credits. If he wanted to see his name in opening part of the film, he should have asked us after reading the contract itself. I am a writer and I respect writers,” Hirani said.
Reacting to Hirani’s statement, Bhagat accused the film-makers of abusing the contract.
“They abused the contract and thought that they can hide the credit. They made a new credit that is of story, which gives the wrong impression that the original story was written by Abhijat and Hirani but it is my story they adapted from.
“They should have mentioned novel’s name in ‘Adapted By’ or they should have mentioned my name in the story credit,” Bhagat said.
Film’s producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra [ Images ] had to apologise to the media after he told a journalist to “shut up” during a press meet last evening in Noida when he questioned him about Bhagat’s allegations.
“I really think it was silly. I was provoked as you guys know but I should not have done that. It does not befit me. I was shouting ‘shut up! shut up!’ like an animal. What I did was silly and I am really sorry,” Chopra said today.
Aamir also blasted Bhagat, accusing him of trying to gain “cheap publicity”.
“He (Chetan) was saying something else three months ago, but he has changed his tunes now that the film has become a hit. He is using the media to gain publicity,” Aamir said.
Hirani said he had liked the novel and had told Bhagat that the script of the film he intended to make would be different.
“I had asked Chetan if he was okay with the script turning out differently from the novel and whether he would like to be associated with the film. He told me that he had liked the script and would want to be associated with the movie,” Hirani said.
“The book is not more than five per cent in the film,” he said, adding that Bhagat had been paid his dues by Chopra even before the release of the film.