Filmmaker-writer Sajeev Pillai believes this is the beginning of a mighty fall. A day before the official release of Mamangam, Mammootty’s mega-budget period drama, the Kerala High Court has passed an order recognising him as the rightful author of the film’s screenplay.
The authorship of the screenplay has been a contentious issue since December 2018. Sanjeev Pillai was removed from the team, and his name was taken off all publicity material at the end of December 2018 after he had a fallout with the film’s producer Venu Kunnappilli.
In January 2019, Pillai was also replaced as the director and the role was given to M.Padmakumar, who was initially the associate director. The screenplay of Mamangam was written by Pillai over a period of 12 years. However, since he was taken off the team, the writing credit was given to Shankar Ramakrishnan.
Despite the controversy surrounding the writing, the screenplay, with due credit given to Pillai, was published by DC Books in November this year.
The court order on Wednesday conclusively recognised Pillai as the rightful author of the film. Citing the Copyright Act’s Section 57 that gives special rights to the author even after assignment of the copyright, if his original creation has been changed, modified or distorted affecting his reputation and good name acquired by him in the film industry.
The ruling was given in response to a petition filed by Pillai against a former Ernakulam Additional District Court order that dismissed his petition seeking to restrain the producer from releasing, publishing, distributing the film without giving adequate authorship credits to him.
The High Court, on Wednesday, also asked the district court to dispose the case in six months. Until then, the film’s title card will mention neither Ramakrishnan nor Pillai as the writer.
Some centres are already showing the film as of 10am today (12 December). Speaking about the court’s decision to Silverscreen.in on the phone, Pillai was quite eloquent with his thoughts on the matter, saying, “Never before has there been a more obvious or conspicuous case of deceit in the Malayalam film industry. The powerful figures of the industry back stabbed a writer for monetary gain, tried to defeat him using all their might – money, influence and star power. Today, I say, is the beginning of their fall,” he said. “Today, the film is releasing in theatres. For me, this day will always be the day of deceit.”
He said that when he moved against the film’s team legally in the beginning of 2019, several people in the industry tried to dissuade him. “I was asked to back-out because the people in the opposition were powerful. I was even tried to be trapped in a fake legal case. But eventually, the court sided with me, a vulnerable human being.”
Mamangam, reportedly made on a budget of over Rs 55 Crores, has Mammootty headlining the cast, as a martial arts warrior. Playing the supporting roles are Unni Mukundan, Anu Sithara and Prachi Tehlan. The Tamil, Hindi and Telugu dubbed versions of the film are also releasing today.