Mumbai: India’s biggest selling author said the makers of the year’s biggest blockbuster had “played” with him and not given him adequate credit in their film based on his book.
Click here to view a slideshow of caricatured newsmakers from 2009 and participate in The Mint Newsmakers Quiz.
Chetan Bhagat, whose first book Five Point Someone was a best-seller both in India and across Asia, was approached by the makers of 3 Idiots after the director of the Munnabhai movies, Rajkumar Hirani, read the book in 2006.
Feeling ‘played’: Five Point Someone author Chetan Bhagat. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Hirani, 3 Idiots created box office history by fetching Rs175 crore just days after it was released in 1,750 theatres across the world on Christmas day, which makes it the biggest opening for a Hindi film this past decade.
While Bhagat believes that around 70% of the film is based on his book, the makers of the film have previously said that only 2-5% of it is based on the book and that it was like an original script after the changes. On Thursday, Bhagat said in a blog on his website www.chetanbhagat.com that the film-makers had been unfair.
He alleged in his blog that, contrary to what the makers have said, much of 3 Idiots is from his original.
Bhagat, who remained silent through the making of the film, also wrote that the makers called him to their office and even wanted to take away his name from the credit of the film entirely and instead wanted to say “something like ‘story initiated by’”.
The credit given to Bhagat and his book appears in the end credits of the film.
In an interview to Mint Lounge on the eve of the film’s release, Hirani had said: “For cinema, we had to introduce a distinct plot since the book was more a slice-of-life kind of narrative. I had told Chetan about the changes and he was fine with the changes.”
Backstory brouhaha: A scene from the film 3 Idiots, 70% of which, Bhagat says, is based on his book.
Hirani and Chopra were not available for comment on Thursday.
To this, Bhagat said: “I don’t care what Raju has said or what I have said before the release of the film. I saw the film only on the day of the premiere so what I said then was based on half the information.”
“My family sat in the theatre shocked, as sequence after sequence came from the book. 2-5% means three-six minutes, and I had told my family to look for the few FPS (Five Point Someone) moments and note them. However, there were so many that it became impossible to keep track. The plot line was same—people meet at ragging, the first class with definition of machine, the friends separate... From Alok (Raju) jumping to stealing the papers and calling out from Cherian’s (Virus’) office—the book came alive on screen. I was surprised and happy that FPS has made it in such a grand way.”
The book’s plot was adapted by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi, who together wrote the script and screenplay for the film.
The backstory of the principal’s son committing suicide and leaving behind a letter that his sister hides from their father is picked from the book. In the movie, Kareena Kapoor reveals the truth of her brother’s death to her father; her character in the book does the same.
But besides the fact that the three lead characters are best friends who stay at the same hostel, there are many additions to the screenplay, such as the happy ending between Rancho (played by Aamir Khan) and Pia (Kareena Kapoor), and what Rancho ends up doing for a living.
The characterization of Rancho and his backstory is largely original. While the focus of the book is more on the pressures of life in an engineering college, the film script focuses on how education is imparted in Indian colleges—how our educational system is inherently antithetical to knowledge and free thinking.
In 2008, Atul Agnihotri directed Hello with Salman Khan in the lead role, which was based on another of Bhagat’s best-sellers, One Night at a Call Centre.
Bhagat is now working on the adaptation of The 3 Mistakes of My Life to be directed by Abhishek Kapoor and produced by Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment. He is in talks with producers for the adaptation of his latest, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage.
Meanwhile, as Bhagat’s blog did the rounds on Twitter, producer Pritish Nandy had another take on this latest controversy: Given Aamir Khan’s penchant for unusual promotional strategies, is it possible the fight with the writer is aimed at pumping up sales of both Five Point Someone and 3 Idiots?
Click here for all Mint 2010 issue multimedia specials.