Court refuses injunction against Bhanushali’s “Main Atal Hoon”

In a case filed by 70mm Talkies, the Bombay High Court refused to grant an interim injunction against the release of “Main Atal Hoon”, a movie produced by Bhanushali Studios. 70mm Talkies had acquired ‘book rights’ from Penguin Random House to make a movie over the book “The Untold Vajpayee” authored by Ullekh N. After acquiring the book rights, 70mm Talkies signed a term sheet assigning the rights to Legend Studios for a sum of 41 Lakh Rupees, who later signed a term sheet with Bhanushali Studios to co-produce the movie tentatively entitled ”Atal’.

Following that, Legend Studios and Bhanushali Studios received a legal notice from Amaash Films claiming that it holds the film rights over the book, which resulted in a copyright suit before a Faridabad Court. Noting the issues with the book rights, Legend and Bhanushali Studios terminated the term sheet, and sought a refund of the sum of 41 Lakh Rupees paid to 70mm Talkies. They later decided to make the movie based on public domain information, and another book on Shri Vajpayee published by Sarang Darshane with the caption “Atalji”: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitrakahani”.

Aggrieved, 70mm Talkies initially filed a copyright infringement suit, withdrew the same, and later, filed a suit for specific performance. It also sought an interim injunction during the pendency of the suit. The Court denied the injunction stating that the defendants had to terminate the agreement because the book rights were under controversy and that the life of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and events relating to Kargil, Pokhran, Emergency, Ram Janmabhoomi, and so on were part of public domain. The Court stated that depicting historical events relating to Shri Vajpayee in the movie would not give rise to copyright infringement as they are not copyrightable. Dealing with the claims for specific performance in the form of credits and production assessment, the Court stated that the relief of specific performance cannot be granted when the Court is required to monitor the implementation.

Citation: 70-Mm Talkies Private Limited Vs. Legend Studios Private Limited [INTERIM APPLICATION (L) NO.34169 OF 2023 WITH COMM. SUIT (L) NO.34133 OF 2023]


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