Hrithik Roshan's ‘Mohenjo Daro’ in legal trouble over plagiarism

The epic adventure-romance film ‘Mohenjo Daro’ starring Hrithik Roshan is embroiled in a legal tussle with a filmmaker claiming that the story idea is his.

Akashaditya Lama who has directed the 2012 film ‘Cigarette Ki Tarah’ and assisted in ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’, has sent a legal notice to ‘Mohenjo Daro’ director Ashutosh Gowariker and sought a stay on the production and release of the film alleging that the makers "stole the story for their new film from him."

The notice was also sent to the producers of the period drama - UTV Films and Disney India and its lead star Hrithik, according to a report in Mumbai Mirror. The court has scheduled the hearing for December 17.

Akashaditya who has penned television shows like ‘Kumkum’, ‘Kkusum’ and ‘Hamari Betiyoon Ka Vivah’, came upon the story idea in 1995 when he was studying in Gwalior. In 2003, he sent the script to Ashutosh Gowariker who had wanted to read it after knowing about it from editor Ballu (Jaswinder) Saluja in 2003.

"I sent him a handwritten script through Saluja which he returned after four days saying that he had just directed a period movie (Lagaan) and didn't wish to make another one immediately," he reminisced.

Akashaditya registered the script with the title ‘Mohenjo Daro’ with the Film Writers Association, Mumbai in 2010. He had first registered it in 2007 with the title ‘Saamrajya’ under the Copyright Act with Ministry of Human Resources Development.

Akashaditya who claimed that the original copy of the script is still with him, said that he had narrated the script to Rana Bhatia, who agreed to make it as a play followed by a Hindi film under the banner of Infinity Ventures and their theatre group Big Bang Theatres Foundation.

When he learnt about the Ashutosh Gowariker using his script for a new film, Akashaditya mailed the ‘Lagaan’ maker, who did not respond.

"I was surprised to learn that Gowariker had already commenced his film's pre-production. After re-confirming from several sources that his Mohenjo Daro is very similar to my script, I sent him another mail on July 18, 2014, reminding him about the script I had sent to him in 2002-2003," he said.

He also alleged that Gowariker copied the climax of ‘Mohenjo Daro’ and used it in his 2008 period drama ‘Jodhaa Akbar’. Akashaditya said he stands to lose a lot if the Hrithik-starrer makes it to theatres. "After Ashutosh Gowariker announced his film, our financier backed out. It is causing us tremendous financial loss as well as hampering our credibility in the trade," he groused.

Meanwhile, responding to the March 2015 legal notice, apart from other things, Ashutosh Gowariker’s lawyers had said, "Our client states that they had received a script from Mr Ballu Saluja in 2003. However, our client returned the script to Mr Ballu Saluja immediately without reading the same.”

‘Mohenjo Daro’ is a love story-cum-revenge drama which revolves around an orphan who meets a girl at a fair in Mohenjodaro only to discover that she is the daughter of the man responsible for his father's untimely death.

The film is in its last leg of shooting in Mumbai’s Film Studios. It is set for a release in August 2016.