A contempt of court petition has been filed against Amazon Prime and makers of upcoming Hindi movie Jhund starring Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role, by a Hyderabad-based filmmaker Nandi Chinni Kumar. Amazon Prime had reportedly entered into an agreement with makers of Jhund to upload and screen the film on their OTT platform. Kumar alleged that the move to release over OTT platforms is in contempt of the orders issued earlier by the trial court and the Telangana High Court.
The filmmaker had earlier sued the makers of Jhund for alleged copyright infringement. Taking up his contempt petition for hearing, the city court directed makers of Jhund to file a counter on November 9.
Kumar told IANS that he bought exclusive rights in November 2017 to make a movie titled Slum Soccer on the life of Akhilesh Paul, a slum soccer player who was the Indian captain at the Homeless World Cup.
Jhund is directed by Nagraj Manjule and is based on the life story of Vijay Barse, who is Paul's coach. He claimed that Manjule, producer Savita Raj and T-Series Vice President Shiv Chanana told him that they bought the rights from Paul.
"Akhilesh had given three no objection certificates to me stating that he didn't sell any rights or had given any consent to Nagraj Manjule or any makers of Jhund. I am the sole authorised person to exploit life story rights," he said.
Kumar said since all his emails, phone conversations and legal notices on copyright infringement failed to yield any response, he filed a suit in the Kukatpally court on May 13. The court, in its order dated September 17, barred exhibiting and broadcasting Jhund in India and abroad until further orders. It also restrained Netflix and Amazon from uploading or screening Jhund.
T-series and Nagraj Manjule had moved the Telangana High Court to dismiss the trial court's injunction orders. A division bench on October 19 dismissed their petition.
Subsequently, T-Series and Manjule filed Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) in the Supreme Court. Kumar said both the SLPs are yet to come up for hearing in the apex court but meanwhile, he came to know that Amazon Prime entered into an agreement to upload and screen Jhund on its OTT platform. He argued that this is contempt of court.
Kumar, a film scholar and independent filmmaker, has written, produced and directed several short films which were presented in national and international film festivals like Mumbai International Film Festival, SiGNS National film festival etc.
He has written and directed an English feature film titled The Seventh Bowl produced by Kamli fame production company Apoorva Chitra. The filmmaker claims to have registered the story and script of his film with the Telangana Cinema Writers Association on June 11, 2018. He said though Manjule bought rights to make a movie on the life of Barse, Jhund also showcases Akhilesh's story in a major role, thus allegedly violating the copyright.