Aamir is a very powerful man: Chetan Bhagat (Interview)

Aamir Khan is a 'very powerful person' but the truth has to prevail, says author Chetan Bhagat, asking people to compare for themselves his book 'Five Point Someone' and the film '3 Idiots'.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010   |  Copyright: IANS  |  Comments 41 Comments  |  9889 Views

Aamir Khan is a 'very powerful person' but the truth has to prevail, says author Chetan Bhagat, asking people to compare for themselves his book 'Five Point Someone' and the film '3 Idiots'.

'I'm just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I'm no great artist. But there has to be fair play,' Bhagat told IANS.

Declaring that the film is based on his bestseller, Bhagat has objected to not being given prominence in the credits. Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director Rajkumar Hirani as well as Aamir Khan have accused him of lying and trying to gain media attention.

'I'm being accused of trying to get mileage. Ten lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by one crore readers. Wouldn't they know the truth?'

'The makers of '3 Idiots' are busy with their victory tours all over the country. Sorry I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told,' he said.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: You must be very upset by the latest proceedings?

A: You're a writer. You should know how it feels to have credit taken away from you. And it's not something only I'm saying. The book is there. The film is there. They've tried to take away from my contribution. My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artists and still photographers. From the time they started making the film, they've been stressing that their product is different. It's like a systematic effort (to underplay my contribution). If you read the book and see the film, you'll see the similarities.

Q: So would you say '3 Idiots' is an adaptation of your novel?

A: '3 Idiots' is a total adaptation of my book. Some things are direct lifts, others indirect adaptations.

Q: Aamir thinks you are trying to take away credit from the film's writer Abhijat Joshi?

A: I heard his comments. But then he says he hasn't read the book. There's no denying Abhijat has done the screenplay. What Abhijat has done with my book can only be known if you've read it. If Aamir is so concerned about Abhijat not getting the publicity, he should let Abhijat talk. I very much respect Aamir. He's the reason I thought the project would have a lot of integrity. I know for a fact he was told not to read my book because they told him it'd affect his understanding of his story. I was told it was a different script.

Q: How would Aamir's perception have been affected if he read the book?

A: I don't know. I'm on a firm footing with the facts. See the film, read the book and judge for yourself. The whole plot-structure narrative, even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega? I mention 42 exams and 16 broken bones in my book. They have kept the same numbers in the film. Kareena's brother committing suicide on the railway tracks... so many other things in the film, it's all there in my novel.

Q: Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir have accused you of trying to make mileage out of their movie?

A: If I didn't take up the issue properly, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself. If someone else goes and collects the award for best story at the awards functions, how will I feel? Only once I met Aamir. When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting '3 Idiots', they said, 'Don't come we've too many visitors'. They prevented me from going on the set.

When the other film 'Hello' based on my novel 'One Night At The Call Centre' came did I say one word against the characterisations or treatment? I was credited properly for that. I haven't been credited for '3 Idiots'.

Q: Have you become embittered towards Bollywood?

A: You could make up any kind of contract. But is there any contract that stops people from being petty? My last novel 'Three Mistakes Of My Life' is being directed by Abhishek Kapoor. I am co-scripting it. There's a lot of interest in adapting my latest novel '2 States: The Story Of My Life'. I don't think there would be any problem with future project.

With '3 Idiots' I know I'm in the right. I'm just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I'm no great artist, but there has to be fair play. I'm being accused of trying to get mileage. Ten lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by one crore readers. Wouldn't they know the truth?

Q: What do you intend to do?

A: The makers of '3 Idiots' are busy with their victory tours all over the country. They're naturally being asked about the similarities between my book and the film. Sorry, I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told. I've been told by them, 'You're just a writer. You don't realise how big we are.'


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  • Posted on: 12 January 2010 at 1:07amblyton

    @nishibh: Agree with you. The book is fiction, not literature. But 3 Idiots is not just a movie, it's good cinema.

  • Posted on: 11 January 2010 at 3:34pmsameera12

    when chetan bhagat says tht he doesnt want any credit makes him desperate for credit!! just becuz the movie is a hit, hes tryin to make himself visible. like seriously chetan go get a life cuz this is makin u desperate!

  • Posted on: 11 January 2010 at 11:30amcoolfire

    Always the same issue with Aamir's movies (?)

    I wonder why there is always the same issue-- "copyright of the story" issue with two of Aamir's last 3 successful films. I am not pointing fingers, but Aamir is ONE guy in the industry that swears by the "richness of a script" when he chooses a movie. And yet, ironically, he is the one who gets into controversies with these story writers-- sometimes by not crediting the writers adequately or sometimes by taking credit himself! How ironic.

    I am not saying that all the hullabo this Bhagat guys is raising is right or wrong. But if a movie is even a slightest adaptation, it is common practice to credit it at the "beginning" of the movie, and any idiot (pun intended) should know that!

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 7:57pmcooks09

    @ rehana ... oh i thought it is a known fact that the credits are given in the beginning of the movie who deserves most .and it is not atleast he should be happy that he got credit as he is the original writer and to get credit is his right the moviemakers have no grace to accept that and making big mess about that.. it's not money he is asking for !!!!!!!!!!!..

    Edited on:06 January 2010 at 8:14pm

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 4:40pmRehana86

    @ cooks09...oh really?!... i didn't know that....lolz...but at least he was given credits....:)

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 12:02pmnishibh

    The books is very amateur appears to be written by a Middle School kid for 6th graders to read. Very boring and pedestrian like an extended article someone would write for a school magazine. Characters never develop into anything and remain one dimensional. The book totally lacks the charm of the movie and the endearing quality of its characters. <br/>Similarities with 3 Idiots<br/> 3 guys who become friends in college (?)<br/> Alok (Jimmy's character) has a paralyzed father, mother works as a teacher and has a sister of marriageable age. He has to support his family (like a hundred other hindi movies)<br/> Story narrated by Hari (Madhavan's character)<br/> Ryan (Amir's character) says college only teaches how to get a job, suppresses individuality etc. is clever with some innovation (only one example)<br/> Tough professor although it never is shown why, there is a mention of him being strict.<br/> Son commits suicide because he cannot get into IIT, and feels he is a disappointment to his father<br/> Alok tries to kill himself by jumping from the roof<br/> They try to steal an exam paper and are caught<br/><br/>Frankly if someone had told me the movie was based on the book I would not have seen it. I am really not sure what all the controversy is all about - he got paid 11 lakhs for about 6-8 pages worth of stuff taken from his book of 270 odd pages.

    Edited on:06 January 2010 at 12:06pm

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 6:38amRuhhee

    Good movie.....

    I will say that the writer did write a good story and well done to him and also Amir should have read the story before making any comment on the book. But also the movie is a hit due to the story being well executed by the director and acted well by the castes...so i will say well done to them to bring this story and issue to the public and especially to those who doesn't know how to read and to those who doesn't read books so stop fighting just enjoy the sucess of a story well written by the writer and a movie well made by the crew and castes
    ...ALL IS WELL HURAY....

    Edited on:06 January 2010 at 6:40am

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 4:30amblyton

    I would have more sympathy for Bhagat if he did not keep contradicting himself. Aamir should not have commented on the issue without reading the book, though. It seems like he took VVC's word for it, and VVC used him because he knows Aamir's word will have more credibility. Having seen the movie and read the book, I can comfortably say that CB does not deserve credit for the success of the movie. If someone wrote a book on medical college minus the jaadu ki jhappi and humane do-gooder bits, and then it was adapted into Munnabhai....who would deserve credit? The writer of the book or the film's crew? 3 Idiots has turned CB's mundane FPS into an inspiring cinematic vision. FPS appeals only to those who have been to college (and even then, not to ALL), while 3i has touched a chord with everyone from housewives to rickshaw pullers. The acknowledgment "based on " is good enough for the book. Had Bhagat agreed to the "initiated by" suggested by VVC, that would have been appropriate since the book is only the starting point of the movie. That way, he would also have got his name in the opening credits. No point in cribbing and complaining now.

  • Posted on: 06 January 2010 at 1:56amtwisted_liz

    anyday the movie is better thn the book..he wants publicity for his 5% of the story which was the base..and so he got tht 5% publicity wen his name came up in the move....wht is he cribbing 4 now??and the idea of copying the 42 exams is so shitty..all engnring students have 2 give 42 sets of exams.. his books wer always 'cheap' and now its the same with his character

  • Posted on: 05 January 2010 at 10:43pmd.y.

    some plots are similar but the movie on the whole is very different from the book

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