Chetan Bhagat's story once again unravels Bollywood's ungrateful nature
Of the many things that are wrong in Bollywood — nepotism, gender pay gap, blatant sexism, and talentless actors — the one which gets little attention is how the industry, known for churning out substandard movies, doesn't credit its writers. This mean practice, existing for years, got attention once again after author Chetan Bhagat spoke up. Sadly, Bhagat isn't the lone sufferer.
After he questioned film critics, Bhagat was bombarded with criticism
Bhagat, a best-selling author, spent his Tuesday on Twitter, calling out film critics for being unduly harsh to late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. As critics asked him to improve his "trash" books instead of doling out tips to them, the IIM-A alumnus dropped a truth bomb. He said he was bullied during the release of 3 Idiots, to an extent that he contemplated suicide.
Bhagat reminded critic he was intimidated during '3 Idiots' release
The author's disclosure was in response to a tweet by critic Anupama Chopra, the wife of noted filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Being accused by Anupama for worsening public discourse, Bhagat questioned her about the silence a decade ago. Chopra, the producer of the blockbuster, didn't give story credits to Bhagat, despite the movie being "inspired" from the latter's bestselling novel Five Point Someone.
Bhagat thought about suicide when denied credits for his work
"Ma'am, when your husband publicly bullied me, shamelessly collected best story awards, tried denying me credit for my story, and drove me close to suicide, and you just watched, where was your discourse? (sic)" Bhagat asked Anupama.
'3 Idiots' won best story awards, Bhagat was given none
Many know this, for those new here.— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) July 21, 2020
1) 3 Idiots was based on my novel Five Point Someone and my story.
2) The film won every story award that year.
3) I was not given any of those story awards. They took them all.
4) As a powerless newcomer I was bullied and was deeply affected
A decade ago, the controversy sparked Chopra's public meltdown
Interestingly, the row which caught pace now was flashed on newspapers and TV screens years ago as well. Once, when asked about the spat with Bhagat, Chopra lost his cool at an event. He later apologized, saying it was nonsensical to "shout like a maniac." To end the controversy, the makers — Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani — named Bhagat in the end credits.
A long fight later, Bhagat also moved on
After days, if not months, of fighting Bollywood's top producers over writing credits, Bhagat surrendered. In a blog post, titled Closing Remarks, he wrote it was time for him and his fans to "move on." He got busy with his work and Bollywood, making movies out of his books (2 States, Half Girlfriend). But the bitter aftertaste of 3 Idiots clearly stayed with him.
Like Bhagat, another writer was cheated by Bollywood
Bhagat's Twitter tirade blows the lid off Bollywood's toxic culture, yet again. Unfortunately, he isn't alone in the "Wronged by Bollywood" club. Writer Harinder S Sikka, who penned Calling Sehmat, on which Alia Bhatt-starrer Raazi was based, recently said director Meghna Gulzar changed the movie's climax to "appease" Pakistanis. Unlike shown in the movie, the protagonist didn't return to India "dejected," he added.
Sikka's idea was ripped apart, credit passed on to Gulzar
On Twitter, Sikka wrote the book specifies that Sehmat was proud to return to her motherland after remaining undercover in Pakistan, as an officer's wife. He also said Gulzar made it a point to remove Sikka's name from Jaipur Lit Fest and other award shows. "My book was tried to be delayed? Why? Every credit must go to Meghna Gulzar," he revealed.
Even JLF chief was shocked to see Gulzar's behavior: Sikka
"You want me to read out this email where Jaipur Literature Festival Head says, 'In my 35 years of career, I have never seen anybody bulldozing to remove one person.' In this particular case, Gulzar is the case in point," he told a news channel.
Writer was bullied by "ungrateful" Gulzars
#BollywoodMafia RECORD— Harinder S Sikka (@sikka_harinder) July 20, 2020
At #Gulzar request,I appointed @meghnagulzar as director of #Raazi contractually.
In return,grateful Gulzars:
Removed me frm fb,Twitter, YouTube,media,Filmfare, JLF,delayed book launch,threat on Twitter #SushantSinghRajput ?#KanganaRanaut pic.twitter.com/M4NWmbLWVO
A same row raged with 'Taare Zameen Par' as well
In fact, in 2008, actor-director Amol Gupte had a similar experience when Aamir Khan didn't approve of his direction of Taare Zameen Par. This, despite the fact that the movie was Gupte's brainchild. After a public fallout, Gupte is now credited as a director along with Khan. During an interview, Gupte said he wanted to drown the incident in "Ganga and move on."
Already short on good scripts, why does Bollywood sideline writers?
These stories reaffirm that the glitzy film industry works on set formulae — take the script from writers, steal them of credits, and bully them to a point that they are forced to let "bygones be bygones." For an industry relying on deplorable storylines, Bollywood must, ironically, just focus on writers. But certainly, elitist nature does get the best of Bollywood.