Today, the Supreme Court has refused to lift the stay granted by the Civil Court and the Telangana High Court against the movie ‘Jhund’ starring Amitabh Bachchan which will not be released for the time.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde dismissed the appeal by producer of the movie, Super Cassettes challenging an October 19 order of the Telangana High Court restraining the release of the movie in India and abroad.
The petition had raised an important question concerning copyright law in India – whether true life events of a real person which are already in public domain can be considered property which can be brought and sold and whether the same will be entitled to copyright protection.
The appellant has submitted that, the High Court was wrong to grant an injunction against the release of film on the assumption that there is copyright infringement in the life story of one Akhilesh Paul, who was the captain of the Indian Slum Soccer team coached by Barse. And the storyline of movie is based on the life of football coach, Vijay Barse who is portrayed in the film by Amitabh Bachchan.
Earlier, an independent filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar has claimed that he had purchased the right to make a movie about the life of Akhilesh Paul. Knowing the facts, Kumar then approached the civil court contending that the movie ‘Jhund’ will have substantial elements from the life of Paul, on whose life story Kumar owns copyright.
On 17th September, the trial court ruled in favour of Kumar and restrained the appellant from exhibiting the movie till the conclusion of the case. This order was upheld by the TelanganaHigh Court on October 19, leading to the present appeal before the apex court.
The appellant (Super Cassettes) submitted that ‘Jhund’ is not so much about Akhilesh Paul as it is about his coach, Vijay Barse.
“Jhund is inspired by and revolves around the real story of a football coach, Vijay Barse who spotted a group of slum children playing football. Spotting talent and potential in them, Mr.Barse took them under his wing and coached them. The film is ‘coach-centric’. The players in the team including its captain are secondary or incidental,” the petition stated.
In its plea, the character of the team captain in the film was deliberately fictionalised to avoid further legal issues, if any raised. It was also that the appellant’s case that historical facts, information, events, or stories and experiences of real persons cannot be the subject matter of copyright law.
Further, the appellant also claimed that an agreement was signed between the appellant and respondent on October 21, 2020, for a consideration amount of Rs 1.3 crore, which was paid by the appellant to the respondents with a condition to withdrawn all pending litigation.
The appellants, therefore, termed the litigation instituted by the respondents as blackmail litigation, as failure to release the movie in November would cause damage to the appellants.
Hearing the consequences in the matter, the Apex Court said to dispose the matter within 6 months. Upon which the senior counsel representing the appellant has submitted that, “The film will be useless after 6 months. A settlement agreement for 1.3 crore was signed in presence of notary. Now they are not adhering to it. Please consider on merits.”
The court, however, declined to interfere and dismissed the plea.
Case Title : M/S Super Cassettes Industries Pvt Ltd v. Nandi Chinni Kumar & Ors.