A legal notice sent by a writer named Aditya Kripalani accusing Sudhir Mishra of stealing his script has the prolific and distinguished filmmaker very very angry. He intends to take legal action and fight against false copyright claims that are made for publicity.
Says Sudhir, "Before making such claims or substantiating them by writing about them, people should read my script for Driver which I've apparently stolen from this Kripalani chap. First of all I am not scriptwriter for Driver. Althia Dalmaj Kaushal is. She was suggested to me by my producer Ekta Kapoor. Driver is about forbidden love, that's what attracted Ekta Kapoor to my cinema. Kripalani is basing his assumption on what he has read about my film in the media. Even Arvind Adiga's White Tiger is about a chauffeur and a rich man."
Sudhir claims that the story which Kripalani claims as his own was given to him by producer Manu Kumaran and journalist-writer Pankaj Kapoor 7 years ago. "Manu hired Aditya to write a story for a film that I was to direct. But Manu didn't like Aditya's story. So Manu decided to write it himself. That matter was between Manu and Aditya, not me. I was supposed to direct that film for Zee Telefilms. There's proof of the registration of that story. So now Kriplani is in trouble. Because Kriplani apparently stole Manu Kumaran's idea to write his novel Back Seat. What is he talking about? I think he got excited when he read your article about Ranbir Kapoor being in the project. This man has fallen into his own trap."
Sudhir's lawyer is now preparing a counter-notice. "My lawyers are on the job. But what are Kripalani's allegations? He hasn't read my script. So how does he know my script is taken from him? During my entire career, I've always done original work. If I've to plagiarize at this stage of my career it'd have to from much better sources than this. The pleasure of scripting my films comes from writing about my own impressions and experiences. That's why I'm a filmmaker. Why would I copy this kid? If I owe any inspirational debt to anyone its Guru Dutt, no one else."
Sudhir says the idea of making a film on the neo-affluent class of Delhi is inspired by his cousin. "This cousin had run away from home looking for me. He became a servant in someone's house in Delhi. So it's story based on incidents from my own family. Just a chauffeur's presence in my film doesn't make it anyone else's property. Fortunately my script has evolved in front of my producer Ekta. So she knows where it's coming from. If I wanted to remake Kripalani's book I'd have asked Ekta to buy it, no? In fact she offered to buy Sagarika Ghosh's book for me."
Sudhir now intends to take serious action against Kripalani. "Besides legal action, once I finish my script I will take it to every writer's guild in Mumbai and ask for it to be compared with Kripalani's book. I think people who defame without basis should be barred from our industry. Kripalani has harmed the prospects of any aspiring writer who comes to us. We'll think twice before allowing them access into our office. As for Kripalani, no one will hire him in future either. It's really sad. Why didn't he contact me if he thought he had a grievance? There's proof that he's lying in every line of his. My friends know about Driver for months because I share my ideas openly. I'm not a sneaky plagiarist."