Hichki director Siddharth P Malhotra took to Twitter on Wednesday to deny allegations of stolen credit made by novelist Nishant Kaushik against producer Yash Raj Films. Kaushik claimed through a series of tweets that Malhotra had approached him in March 2015 with a one-line brief that was developed into a story over a month. Kaushik put out a thread detailing his alleged experience.
Kaushik shared a page of his story draft on Twitter along with his purported e-mail correspondence with Malhotra.
In Kaushik’s draft, the protagonist is a male teacher with Tourette syndrome who has changed several jobs because he is bullied and mocked by his students. In Hichki, Rani Mukerji’s school teacher Naina Mathur too has the neuropsychological disorder that causes severe tics and involuntary movements. The film will be released on February 23, 2018.
Malhotra rubbished Kaushik’s claims, saying that he had approached several writers, including Amole Gupte (Taare Zameen Par, Stanley Ka Dabba), Abbas Tyrewala (Maqbool, Main Hoon Na) and Anuvab Pal (The President is Coming). The director added that that since the makers did not like Kaushik’s take on the material, their decision to exclude him from the final production was communicated to Exceed Entertainment, the company through which Kaushik was contacted. Here is his complete statement.
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.— Siddharth P Malhotra.
Yash Raj Films has also clarified that Hichki is an official adaptation of the book Front of the Class by Brad Cohen. The memoir by the American motivational speaker and teacher, who has severe Tourette’s syndrome, was adapted into a television movie in 2008. The clarification was issued after news reports pointed to the similarities between the trailers of Hichki and Front of the Class.
In a statement, a Yash Raj Films spokesperson said that Cohen’s journey was the inspiration for the movie and Mukerji’s character, but everything else was changed by the makers. The film’s trailer, however, does not mention the book or its writer. The story and screenplay are credited to Ankur Chaudhry, Ambar Hadap, Ganesh Pandit and Malhotra.