On March 21, mid-day first reported about Kangana Ranaut rolling out her dream project, Manikarnika — a biopic on Rani Lakshmibai. Only it wasn’t going to be with Ketan Mehta as originally planned. Furious that the actress chose a different director to make the film, Mehta has shot off a legal notice to Manikarnika makers demanding that the shoot be stopped.
“What she has done is unacceptable. She has stolen my project that I worked on for over a decade,” says Ketan.
Terming it as the most horrible incident in his life, Ketan says he learnt about Kangana making the film with another filmmaker through media reports in March. “At that time, I was hospitalised in Delhi. Once back, I started working on the legal proceedings,” he adds.
Responding to Ketan’s notice, Manikarnika producer Kamal Jain says, “Our lawyers have sent an interim response to him. His notice is inaccurate and baseless. We were aware that Ketan’s film was in discussion for the past five years. But, you [Ketan] can’t hold back a talent [Kangana] for that.”
Ketan claims he gave research material on the warrior queen to Kangana for her prep, and that he planned to take the film on floors early this year although she was yet to sign on the dotted line. “I waited a year and a half for her,” he rues, adding that Kangy ‘connived’ with producer Kamal to ‘hijack’ his most ambitious project till date.
Kamal says there’s no copyright violation. “Ketan is as free to make a biopic on a historical figure as any one else. We have none of his research material in possession, contrary to his claim. There is no similarity between his screenplay and ours. It’s a great subject, which allows multiple takes with fresh perspectives.”
The producer also points out that Kangana wasn’t bound by any contract to do the film with Ketan. “She didn’t sign any agreement with him. He had presented his script, which she may have not found feasible. Only a legal document can bind actors to a project. Plus, this isn’t a fictional story. There were five films on Bhagat Singh. No one sued anyone then.”
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