By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: The Sanjay Dutt starrer Knock Out, which was locked in a copyright battle with 20th Century Fox, has suffered a serious blow with the High Court ruling in favour of 20th Century Fox, thereby putting Mani Shankar into a position of deep embarrassment at a time when he has just completed a very successful stint with Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi in using the holograph 3D technique to project Modi’s life-like image on stage in several cities of Gujarat simultaneously during the recent election campaigning.
So impressed is Narendra Modi by Mani Shankar’s technological panache that the Gujarat CM tweeted, “Gujarat Election Campaign 2012 becomes even more memorable with the 3D interaction creating a Guinness World Record.”
Says Mani Shankar, “In truth it was the most challenging 14 days of my life with a 1,200-men team spread over 53 locations. Over 100 checklists had to be got right in each location, a fresh crisis every hour, unbelievable team-work. It was exhilarating. I’d rather focus on the good work with Modiji than concern myself with a lawsuit that I had no hand in bringing about.”
Reluctant to talk about the copyright issue involving his film Knock Out, Mani protests, “None of my films so far, whether it was December 16, Rudraksha or Mukhbir has been remotely unoriginal. As far as I am concerned Knock Out was an original story with original characters. One could argue that it bears a rough smiliarity, and that too only in certain parts of the plot structure, to the Colin Farrell starrer Phone Booth .
“But I could also argue that another Hollywood film Liberty Stands Still starring Weslet Snipes is uncannily similar to Phone Booth. Certain similarities with existent works are inevitable in the creative process. It doesn’t mean I copied any other film in Phone Booth. Anyone who has seen my other films would vouch for my penchant for originality. We are all inspired by what we see hear and read. But after all the reading and thinking is done, if what we create comes from within our hearts then it should be deemed original.”
Incidentally, when the resemblance between Knock Out and Phone Booth became evident, Mani Shankar repeatedly told the producers of Knock Out to talk to 20th Century Fox and settle the matter before it went to court.
Amitabh Parekh, one of the producers of Phone Booth, passed away a month ago. And the other producer Sohail Makhlai refuses to comment. That leaves poor Mani Shankar to defend the film against charges of plagiarism.
We hear Mani Shankar now intends to seek Narendra Modi’s help in the matter.