Bestselling Marathi novelist Vishwas Patil said he will "publicly apologise" to the makers of "Panipat", if they prove that the upcoming film is not inspired by his 1988 novel of the same name. Set to be released on December 6, the Ashutosh Gowariker-directorial starring Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon and Sanjay Dutt, recently found itself in a controversy after Patil filed a lawsuit in the Bombay High Court accusing the makers of "stealing" the plot from his historical fiction.
"The moment I watched the trailer, I was very sure they (the makers) had stolen the soul of my book, and then there was no other alternative left but to go to the court. I have asked them to show me both the script and the movie. If I am wrong and they have not lifted from my plot, then I'll publicly apologise, else they have to compensate," Patil told PTI.
Now in its 43rd edition, the book has sold over 2 lakh copies in Marathi. It has recently been translated into English by publishing house Westland. The writer has also written a Marathi play titled, "Ranangan" (Battlefield) based on his novel. Patil's book and play, as well as Gowariker's film, are based on the third battle of Panipat, which was fought between the Maratha empire and the Afghan army on January 14, 1761.
While the 60-year-old author agreed that the story of the battle is in public domain, and admitted that no one individual could claim copyright over it, he argued that his book added "many new shades and colour" to the historic event, which have been lifted by the makers of the film. For instance, he claimed it was his idea to make the character of Parvati Bai, the second wife of Sadashivrao Bhau, a warrior.
Sanon, who plays the character of Parvati Bai in the film, is seen fighting with swords in the trailer. "No history book has shown her as a woman wielding a sword... she, for the longest time, has been seen as a feeble woman only. I was the first person to give a sword in her hand... I wrote the book in that way... be it the dialogues, plots or sub plots. And this is just one of the many examples," he said.
The Sahitya Akademi award winning author also claimed that during the film's inception stage, eminent Marathi scriptwriter Sanjay Krishnaji Patil had allegedly reached out to him, seeking consent for adapting his novel for the film. "Sanjay called me saying that Rohit Sheletkar (producer) is interested in making a movie on the battle of Panipat, and that he wants to write the screenplay based on my book and play. I gave him my consent.
"He even did one reading session with the producer, and was the one who suggested Ashutosh's name for the director. But soon after, I came to know that Sanjay was no more part of the project ... I didn't keep a check on things after that," he recalled. The former IAS officer said his fight was on behalf of all "poor writers" who are exploited by "big production companies" and "big film makers".
"I have spent eight years with his project ('Panipat'), six with the book and two with the play. Not putting up a fight was not an option. Also, I think one needs to take on these big companies and directors, otherwise they will make a habit out of this and go on stealing the hard work of poor writers," The 60-year-old author said.
Patil, who retired two years back as the vice-president of Maharashtra Aviation, has several bestselling Marathi novels to his credit including "Mahanayak" and "Zadazadati", which have also been translated into many languages. Repeated attempts for a response from Gowariker and film's production team went unanswered.
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