VA Shrikumar Menon’s long-delayed film adaptation of MT Vasudevan Nair’s Malayalam classic Randamoozham, with Mohanlal in the lead, has hit a legal hurdle. Upset that the project is yet to go into production, Nair on Thursday moved court to get back the screenplay he had written for the film. The Kozhikode Munsiff Court has barred Menon from going ahead with the film until further orders.

Earlier in the day, Nair had announced his decision to withdraw from the project. Speaking to The News Minute, Nair said that he had given the screenplay to producer BR Shetty for a contract period of three years, but the project never took off. “Even after the contract was extended for one more year, they haven’t started the making of the film,” he said. Nair said that he is willing to return the money that was paid to him as an advance.

Nair’s 1984 novel is a retelling of the Hindu epic Mahabharata from the perspective of Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers. It won the Vayalar Award for the best literary work in Malayalam in 1985 and the Muttathu Varkey Award in 1994. The film adaptation was to be made in multiple languages, with several big names and on a reported budget of Rs 1,000 crores, which would have made it the most expensive Indian film to be produced till date.

Nair told The Hindu that he has no plans for the script if he gets the rights back. “I am not particular that Randamoozham should be turned into a film,” he said. “It has reached out to so many people as a novel...Now it is into its 60th edition.”

However, the filmmaker has expressed confidence that the project will come back on track. After Nair spoke of his plans to move court, Menon, on Facebook, reiterated his commitment to the film.

“It is my fault that I was not able to inform MT sir regarding the developments of the project,” Menon said according to The News Minute’s translation of his post. “I will go meet him personally and make him understand.” He also said he would apologise to the author.

He said he had been busy with his upcoming debut feature, Mohanlal-starrer Odiyan, because of which he had not spoken to Nair about the status of the project.

The makers had earlier announced that the film will go into production in July next year.