Dear RajKumar Hirani, its time to put your hand on VVC’s crotch and say aal izz well!

Posted: January 3, 2010 by moifightclub in bollywood, cast & crew, cinema, News, Thoughts, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Because he did a great and grand job there and you had all the voyeuristic pleasure. Because dil pe hath rakhkar you cant do that! That would be a great fake job.

What We Thought

1. Chetan Bhagat is a shitty writer who is like Priyadarshan of desi english writing. His PR guys are always working over time and going for the over kill. There is no reason to like him or his writing.

2. Raj Kumar Hirani was the Rocket Singh of Bollywood. He would not commit any wrong. Jadu ki jhappi and Gandhigiri happened because the man seriously believes in those virtues. The man who can say no to Shah Rukh Khan and his 20 crores, he surely has some ethics.

3. Vidhu Vinod Chopra is insane and passionate about films. The only producer who doesnt mind sharing profits with his cast and crew. But he loves talking only about himself and his films and has even passed his genes to his one time AD Sanjay Leela Bhansali. But he is here for cinema and nothing else.

Now, forget what Chetan said, what RajKumar Hirani replied, how VVC reacted and what percentage of the book is the film debate. Because their story has more twists and turns than the film. If you are still interested, you can click here to know more. Lets see what we got to know.

The Problem

The problem is simple. As Vir Sanghvi has put out in his blog post here. Imagine a producer like Vidhu Vinod Chopra and a filmmaker like RajKumar Hirani wanting to buy the rights of your book. Ask any sane writer, anyone will happily go for it and will settle for whatever decent money is offered.

When a writer is starting his career, most of them dont care much about the contract or the money. Because contracts are difficult to read and they are never in favour of writers anyway. And money doesnt matter much because its your first one. You just want to step in. For Chetan, am guessing it most have been the opposite. With IIT-IIM degree, how much more do you want ? 

When signing a contract in bollywood, try asking for a fair deal and they will show you the door. And nobody wants to lose an opportunity in this cut-throat competition. Argue a bit and they will tell you that they have million other stories to tell, trillion other books in mind and drillion writers waiting to write for free. Go figure! And Chetan was ofcourse more than interested to make an entry into bollywood, as he sent the copy of the book to Hirani first, who found it interesting and thought about adapting it.

The way bollywood works, its mostly based on relationship. You take the spoken words for guarantee. The bigger the other party, the lesser power you have to talk. Writers are asked to start writing, money comes later on depending on the mood of the producer/director and then the contract is signed. And when any writer is desperately looking for work, he/she will go ahead and sign any contract. Dont look at this case, look at the contract.

Let me tell you the story of the lyricist who wrote one of the cult songs of this decade. It was in a cult film directed by a well respected director and produced by a well known production house. Since it was his first song, you would not believe what he was offered. Listen to this carefully, he was offered to take some costumes fom the film which was ordered for the lead character. He didn’t say anything, entry was important. No doubt he is doing good for himself now and can ask for a fat cheque.

Curious Case of Contracts

In bollywood, its just another way of full proof exploitation unless you belong to the league of Kashyap & Tyrewala . Its a document that state the writer agrees with all their terms and conditions. In an industry where there are millions waiting for a door to open, people go for whatever they get. In this scenario, it totally depends on the other party, the one who has all the powers, to decide the deal he/she is going for. And if a big producer like VVC goes for this kind of contract, you can imagine the rest.

Its true that Chetan signed the contract and accepted a rolling credit. But the contract itself is UNFAIR! He accepted it for whatever reasons. But to even offer a credit in the end is like trying to sabotage the credit. VVC could have atleast consulted his in-house film reviewer Anupama Chopra, who contributes for many international newspapers and magazines.

Everywhere in the world, everywhere, when a book is adapted on screen, its always credited in the opening credit roll. It doesnt matter if its a 5 percent, 50 or cent percent. Whats surprising is that Vidhu Vinod Chopra gets a credit for Associate Screenplay in the opening titles. Also, since there is lot of similarity between the book and the film as pointed by those who have read the book, Chetan deserves a story credit as well.

Rahman Cant, Chetan Can ?

Many believe that its Chetan’s mistake because he signed the contract. Well, he signed it but was there any other choice ? I doubt. Those of you who have any bit of info about how the industry works, will understand.

Do you know that all big and small musicians and singers who are currently working in the industry have to pay a fee to the music company every time they perform their own songs ? Because none of them own copyright over their own creations. How weird is that! It happens only in thie country and nowhere else. Blame it on contracts again. Because you have no choice but to sign it or you will be out of work soon. They will tel you  forget intelluctual property, count what you are getting now! And we are talking about big names here. When A R Rahman asked for rights of music of Om Shanti Om, which he has suppose to compose, he was shown the door. He didnt even ask for complete rights but just wanted to share. The makers replaced Rahma with Vishal-Shekhar. Imagine if this can happen to A R Rahman, what can a new writer or even Chetan Bhagat do ? Even if he had asked for it, doubt it would have any kind of difference. You can read more about it here (Rahman episode) and here (artists & contracts).

In many countries including France, where the copyright issue was sorted out first, the contract is not counted for even if the artist has sold his intelluctual rights on the basis of contract. Because the creation of any artist always remains his/her, those are non-transferable rights, by any kind of contracts.

So, fuck the contracts. And its great that VVC and his gang put out the contract in the public domain. Now everyone can read and see for themselves, the way bollywood goes for bonded labour.

Forget Filmmaking, Learn Creditmaking

Learn it from Danny Boyle. He didnt bother even sharing the direction credits. It was not mentioned anywhere that Loveleen Tandon would get the co-director’s credit but Boyle felt that she deserves more. He even called his Chief AD Raj Acharya onstage at the Director’s Guild Award. It doesnt make him any less talented but  just better human being.

Closer home, look at the credits of Kaminey. Cajetan Boy, whose short story was the trigger point for the film gets the first credit in the opening title and a font so big that can be spotted from a distance. Whats more, even a character in the film is names Cajetan.  

What We Think Now

Chetan was never holier-than-thou, no doubt about that, and he still isn’t but all this is happening with those who taught us jadu ki jhappi and gandhigiri! Why fool us any more, Sir ? Wasnt there an easy solution ? When your cinema is all about commerce and credits, spare us the great gyaan of life. This real life story taught us more and hopefully our bollywoodwallahs are watching and learning too!

  1. someonehastosaythis says:

    i agree with you cent per cent. writers are treated like shit both film and literary. sad and agonizing.

  2. D'jango says:

    very well written piece. i had no idea about the rehman episode or the fact that musicians have to pay royalty every time they perform – phew! the exploitation just don’t stop here!!

  3. Pavan says:

    Its Shame on Chetan Bhagat and his IIT-IIM experience.. He is also product of the System and belongs to Chatur Lingam genre:) Specially if he can ignore a contract.. I believe he was happy with the deal at the first place and when he found the film is going to be biggest hit, he sees an opportunity..
    a commerce graduate and FTII scholer Hirani can surely make nthe IITian-IIMian bhagat a Mamu.. All izz well!

  4. thinkabtit says:

    Vir chamcha of Gandhis. Shahrukh family friend of Gandhis. Shahrukh Aamir bitter rivals. Got it?

  5. bksingh2009 says:

    Agree with you completely.

    I think RGV too doesn’t mind sharing credit with people who have worked with him. I have read how story of Satya and Company were his creation and people like Anurag, Saurabh and Jaideep had worked on those with him. But RGV’s name doesn’t even appear on the credit rolls. He gave full credit to those writers, who deserved it completely. Also, I found multiple credits for direction in Naach. He could have easily put his name on the story of satya and company. But I think he is supremely talented and confident, hence he has no kind of complex. your thoughts??

    Why is it so difficult for people like VVC to give proper credits to those who deserve? I guess, its his affinity towards awards. He wants to be on stage when story awards are given and he doesn’t want it to share it with anyone like CB.

  6. flash5not5 says:

    It’s disappointing how both parties have fared on the issue so far…dignity being lost all round…sigh! Agreed that it’s not a part of the deal…but in all fairness and like the examples cited in your piece…Chetan does deserve a credit for whatever little as being the starting point of the millions being raked in at the BO right this very moment.

  7. pardemeinrehnedo says:

    agree with you verbatim.
    Regardless of how bad/good/ugly the book is and how much of a % adaptation the film is, an adaptation is an adaptation. It makes a world of a difference between opening credit and end credits after the action director/media consultant/still photographer !!!

    It’s an opening credit yaar. Kya chala jaata ek naam shuru mein daal dene se ???

    Never mind. All izz not well. Something rotten in the state of denmark

  8. Sudhir Nair says:

    Agree with u that contract was unfair. But why the hell did he have to sign it. Does that mean that he makes even less money on his books that he wanted to desperately sign the damn contract? Usually new or inexperienced ppl get screwed by everywhere (not just Bollywood). CB is not some new guy trying to make a mark, he’s a successful writer who has a fan following. Chetan could have easily told them to fuck off, and ask for more. Instead, he meekly agreed and signed.
    Agreed , it was extremely mean and petty from VVC for mentioning rolling credit in the first place; but I’ll always put the blame on CB for agreeing with it. He’s just doing this to bring more success to his books. Iam sure u can find out for sure if the sales of FPS has shot up or not in the last 2 days. Iam sure it would have gone up.

  9. ram says:

    Very well written indeed…
    Thank god it took him 4 years to know that he signed a lousy contract and 2 days to be clear on what he actually wants..
    ..Hell he was even convinced that he had a case from a random blog comment reg american copyright law..
    If not for chetan bhagat , his incessant whining and of course vvc’s shutup,which hooked the media, this wouldn’t have reached much ears…

    In the end if this just makes producers to think.. All is just well for bollywood…

  10. beingjohngalt says:

    @bksingh2009: I suggest that you pick up a DVD of Shool and see the credits. Anurag wrote the story, screenplay and dialogue of Shool. You’ll be surprised to see what is he credited for.

  11. Me says:

    You’re right… and them saying that it is being done to take credit away from abhijat joshi is ridiculous.. admitting that a film is adapted from some novel doesn’t take away from the screen writer or screenplay writer.
    The shameless VVC credits himself as Associate Screenplay writer in the opening titles but cannot give one more credit.. what difference would it have made?

  12. Chitra says:

    very well written..

  13. thedailytamasha says:

    Very well put. Agree completely – screw the contract, screw Bhagat’s idiocy and late-awakening (for whatever reasons) – such a contract was made and enforced is the issue here.

    A book being made into a film and the ‘story’ credit goes to the people who ‘adapted’ the book, even if they changed 99.9 percent. Percentage is not an issue here, and it’s stupid of both chetan as well as vvc/hirani to talk of percentages.

    The germ came from bhagat’s book, they acknowledge it, have a (lousy) contract too, to corroborate it, and that’s enough for a credit in the opening.

    Hope more people get this point – no percentages, no contracts are issue here – only issue is – writing credit for (one of the) writers.

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