The first hiccup? The battle for writing credit is still raging over Rani Mukerji's Hichki

Australia-based writer Nishant Kaushik vented his frustration on Twitter after seeing the trailer of Rani Mukerji's Hichki

If nothing else, the year 2017 has served as a wake-up call for filmmakers in Bollywood, to perhaps give credit where it is due. Bollywood writers got a bigger share of the limelight this year, but unfortunately only because they were embroiled in one controversy after another. It began with Apurva Asrani alleging that Kangana Ranaut didn’t deserve the writer’s credit for Simran, a controversy that went on for far too long than the issue warranted.

And just as we thought the storm had blown over, Asrani in turn was accused of stealing writing credit of another film, Shahid. The co-writer Sameer Gautam Singh accused Asrani of intimidating Hansal Mehta in giving him credit for a film that he claimed he had written in a viral Facebook post.

As the year comes to a close, we have yet another credit battle to contend with. This time it’s Rani Mukerji-starrer Hichki, whose trailer dropped a few days ago. Australia-based novelist Nishant Kaushik, has alleged he was asked to write a story for a film by director Siddharth P Malhotra, about two years ago. After exchanging emails and texts, Kaushik sent him the first draft of a story. His story revolved around a man, suffering from speech impairment, who wants to become a teacher. After Siddharth stopped replying to his messages, Kaushik writes he figured his story wasn’t good enough for a feature film.

And then he saw the trailer of Hichki.

Also read: Rani Mukerji’s ‘Hichki’ deals with Tourette’s Syndrome. Here’s all you need to know about it

Drawing parallels between the film and the first draft he had written, Kaushik vented his frustration on Twitter:


Kaushik’s tweet got him a plenty of responses on Twitter. While one Twitter user shared his own ordeal with another big production house Dharma Productions. The user tweeted:

To which Nishant replied:

The production house YRF, however, has a different story to tell. The production company has said that the movie is based on Brad Cohen’s book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher. Brad Cohen is a motivational speaker and the book chronicles his story.

 A Hollywood movie, based on the book, was released in 2008, and starred James Wolk in the lead.

Also read: Think a TV reporter must look a certain way? This girl with Down Syndrome is here to change that

YRF’s statement:

YRF has acquired the rights of Brad’s book and has changed the plot substantially. It is a brand new film now. Brad Cohen’s life and journey is the inspiration for the film and Rani’s character. Everything else has been completely changed by the makers and Hichki narrates a completely new and uplifting story of a girl who is chasing her dreams despite limitations.

After YRF’s statement, director Siddharth Malhotra also spoke about his communication with Kaushik and said: 

I had acquired the rights to make Front of the Class as a Hindi motion picture in 2013. Nishant Kaushik’s claims are baseless. He was contacted through Exceed Entertainment and I haven’t even met him once. We were looking for writers who could come up with a take on the Front of the Class. We had approached several writers including Nishant. He was given a brief for the film and the story and slant he came up with, was not what we were looking for. So, we did not proceed with him and Exceed was informed about my decision immediately. This was, 2015. Several prominent writers like Amole Gupte, Abbas Tyrewala have worked on the story of Hichki and we have obtained NOC’s from them and I thank each one of them for being the creative contributors of Hichki. We have credited all the writers who have worked in our film. So, it is ridiculous that we will not give credit to anyone in particular who has worked hard and contributed for Hichki.

InUth reached out to Nishant Kaushik and he said this incident served as a wake-up call to him as to how Bollywood treated its writers. When asked to comment on Siddharth Malhotra’s statement that his claims are baseless, Kaushik

The very fact that he acknowledges our conversation, just goes to show that my claims aren’t baseless. At no point in my tweets have I said that Hichki is my story. I am not asking credit for what’s not mine, and am being completely honest here. What I am saying is that I worked on the story for three months. Now somewhere those inputs have been consumed, consciously or subconsciously. And maybe other writers have contributed to it to make the final product like Hichki.  My concern is you are making a writer work for three-plus months and don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge him. You don’t even have the courtesy to tell the writer that sorry, it didn’t work out. No communication at all is what disturbs me.”

When questioned if he planned on getting in touch with someone from YRF or director Siddharth, Nishant answered in the negative. He said:

I am a shy person, I don’t like confrontation. I had no intention of blowing this out of proportion. I am on a vacation, and my wife showed me the trailer. On seeing it, I was upset and posted those 10-12 tweets. I don’t intend to talk to anyone from YRF or Malhotra. What do I speak to man who doesn’t have the courtesy to call me back?

Nishant also spoke about the kind of redressal he is seeking from this entire episode. He added:

As of now, I am not seeking redressal. I am a member of the Australian Writer’s Guild, so I’ll probably ask them about the best discourse once I go back to Melbourne. I am not intending to pick up a legal battle. I will be grateful to the film fraternity, if they understand that a writer is a part of your project. The film fraternity should not turn a blind eye to it. Stories don’t come out of thin air, someone is writing it. They need to understand it. We are lamenting poor content in Bollywood. If we keep doing that and not take remedial action, it’s shows the hypocritical nature of the industry.

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