New Delhi: Popular movie characters Munna Bhai and his sidekick Circuit made millions of viewers laugh when they appeared in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s films Munna Bhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Actors Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi played the two small-time goons who eventually preached the virtues of Gandhigiri (peaceful means of protest).
Role branding: Munna Bhai (right, played by Sanjay Dutt) and Circuit (Arshad Warsi) in a still from Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Vinod Chopra Films has filed applications to trademark the two names.
The duo is now headed to the trademark office. Vinod Chopra Films Pvt. Ltd, producer of the two Munna Bhai films, has filed a raft of applications to trademark the two names under various product categories—from tobacco, rugs and carpets to automobiles, retailing, leather goods and baby foods.
It has also filed trademark applications for firearms, ammunition and explosives, medical instruments, promotional materials, cards, carrybags, furniture, kitchen utensils, clothing, and dozens of other products.
Anil Davda, executive producer at Vinod Chopra Films, said the company has applied to the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks to stop potential misuse of their popular characters. “Munna Bhai and Circuit are extremely important brands for us, with very strong and positive values that have been established through the two films,” Davda said. “We have put in trademark applications in relevant categories as a routine process to safeguard these brands.”
Trademark lawyer Neil Mason said the applications suggest the company might be looking at licensing both the names for businesses. “Maybe eventually they are looking at merchandising,” he said. “These names are generally associated well with couple of characters and they probably want to utilize them.”
But according to Davda, the company has “no immediate plans” to roll out Munna Bhai and Circuit branded products. “We can use the names (for launching products) in the future,” he said.
The two Munna Bhai films touched a large section of the Indian audience. The first movie, Munna Bhai MBBS, was released in 2003 and featured a small-time Mumbai goon who decides to study medicine to impress and win over his sweetheart. The movie became an instant rage in India and won many awards, including the National Film Award for the best film in the popular category for the year.
The sequel, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, popularized Gandhi’s non-violent ways, with Munna shunning violence and resorting to Gandhigiri to win hearts. The concept has since been used by several groups to register protest.
The success of the series catapulted its director Rajkumar Hirani to the A-list of Bollywood directors. Hirani cemented his position further with last year’s blockbuster, 3 Idiots, with Aamir Khan in the lead role.
Next in the series is Munna Bhai Chale Amerika. The film is currently being scripted, according to the company’s website.
A promotional video on the website shows Munna Bhai and Circuit preparing for the US and holding books titled Learn English in 30 Days.
Meanwhile, the trademark office has already raised some objections, as a few similar trademarks such as Circuit House and Circuit World already exist. Also, the film-maker has applied for Munna and the trademark office has pointed out that Murphy India Ltd (which was amalgamated with Ceat Ltd) holds the trademark registration for that name under radio receiving sets, record players, amplifiers and television gadgets among others.