Director Shree Narayan Singh (right)

Toilet - Ek Prem Katha director says foolish to lay claim on topic as common as open defecation
Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; August 9, 2017)

"In my ancestral village, I still have to go to the fields with a lota,” says debutant director Shree Narayan Singh, whose film, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, deals with the issue of open defecation in the country. The film has been hit with a series of plagiarism charges since it grabbed headlines.

Dealing with the negative attention was challenging for the filmmaker, who tells mid-day, days after a Jaipur court rejected a plea seeking a stay on the release of the film, that the accusations angered him. “How is the idea plagiarised,” he questions, adding that the story was registered at the Film Writers Association in 2014, soon after writers Sidharth and Garima approached him with the subject. “The subject of sanitation is a common one. How can people claim it’s theirs? Consider the number of movies made on a rich girl falling in love with a poor boy. Are they all copies of one other?” says Singh.

With the court rejecting the plea filed by Jaipur-based filmmaker Pratik Sharma, who alleged the makers of the Akshay Kumar-starrer stole the punchline of his film Gutrun Gutar Gun, Singh has been cleared of all charges. However, he points out that one among those accusing the filmmaker of copying, called for attention. “A director in Gujarat had called me after the film’s announcement to discuss our respective films. We exchanged descriptions of our plots, and realised that the two films were distinct. I can’t understand why these cases are cropping up now when the film has been in the making for two years,” he says.

Singh points out that among the plagiarism accusations hurled at him, the one that humoured him was from a writer whose book released in April. “Our film was already in post-production by then. Even if the idea is the same, I’m still in the clear. It’s a subject, which requires reiteration from artistes all over.”