Interim Stay on Release of Film ‘Phir Se’

Justice S C Gupte of Bombay High Court while hearing a suit filed by writer Jyoti Kapoor alleging copyright infringement and breach of confidence against Kohli and production house Bombay Film Company, found prima facie similarities between the script of ‘Phir Se’ and another movie ‘R.S.V.P’. Subsequently Bombay High Court has put an interim stay on the release of movie ‘Phir Se’. The movie ‘Phir Se’ is directed by Kunal Kohli.

Jyoti Kapoor in her petition contented that, in the year 2010, she had written a script for movie titled ‘R.S.V.P’ and registered it with the Film Writers Association and in 2013, and she met the director Kunal Kohli who showed an interest in her script. However, both of them could not arrive at an agreement following which Kapoor approached another production house which agreed to make her film.

Jyoti Kapoor, after coming across newspaper articles about Kunal Kohli launching a new film ‘Phir Se’, and realised that Kohli had used her screenplay, lodged a complaint with the FWA and Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) and also issued a notice to Kohli, Subsequently, a Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of IMPPA issued notice to Kohli directing him to stop shooting of the movie ‘Phir Se’ till the matter is resolved.

Kohli however claimed that, the setting, the treatment and the climax of the film ‘Phir Se’ are completely different from ‘R.S.V.P.’. He further claimed that in the past, several movies have been made similar to ‘R.S.V.P’ and hence, Kapoor’s script was not novel. However, after perusing the script of both the movies, Court observed that the script of ‘R.S.V.P’ can be appropriately termed as ‘novel’ or ‘unique’.

Court further noted that, the essential elements of the screenplay of ‘R.S.V.P’ appear to have been used in the defendants’ film ‘Phir Se’. The bench, while granting an interim injunction on release of the movie observed that, the uncanny similarities of characteristics of the protagonists of the two films, the overall plot, the approach of society to their divorces, their quest for partners, their coming together only to develop doubts, later, then drifting apart and once again coming together makes an arguable case in favour of Kapoor.