Actor Shekhar Suman has launched legal proceedings against writer, director and producer Saif Hyder Hassan for recording Ek Mulaqaat, claiming that the latter recorded the play without his consent and knowledge. He has also mentioned the ticketing portal BookMyShow in his legal notice, which he sent on June 26.
Suman and Hassan had collaborated together for Ek Mulaqaat, for which they toured Dubai, Singapore, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Indore and New Delhi. The play, also featuring Deepti Naval, was launched in 2014. The notice sent by the actor's advocate Ajatshatru Singh via registered post to Hassan places on record the infringement of copyright and violation of intellectual property rights, with a restraining order on the distribution of Ek Mulaqaat on any digital platform without mutual consent.
The notice states that the agreement entered by both the actors at the time of signing was for the play to be exclusively performed only in the theatres with no agreement with respect to webcast or broadcast. "I have explored theatre for the sheer passion of it and I will not permit any party to jeopardise my career. The director had recorded the entire play during one of the performances without my consent and knowledge. It is an industry norm that the technical set-up required for a web or theatrical telecast differs considerably with the set-up allocated for a live stage performance," Shekhar said, talking about his legal action.
"Moreover this is a sheer violation of the performers right under Section 38A of the Copyright Act, 1957, as I have not authorised the director to record, store and webcast my work and there is no written agreement to the effect. When the public advertisements were noticed by me three days ago, I had personally communicated my concerns to the team of bookmyshow.com, who specified that the director had given an undertaking stating that all the rights to publish and commercialise the digital version of the play were vested in him," he said while explaining why he opted for the legal route.
He continued, "It is pertinent to mention that I have never formally authorised the director to publish my work on any portal and nor has the director bothered to apprise me in this regard, and selling the same to any digital portal on false pretense of having digital rights tantamount to fraud under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Further, any such assurance is nothing but an act of misrepresentation and cheating. The director is liable to pay Rs 15 lakh towards the income generated by him from advertisement and digital use of the play without any authorisation within one week as the income is nothing but royalty. If the director fails to comply with the directives then I will be constrained to initiate all such legal measures available in this regard including but not limited to initiating civil and criminal proceedings against him."
It is being claimed that the director also defaulted in payment of the remuneration of the actors, which was addressed by the actors on repeated instances, following which the actors stopped performing the play in 2018. The play is scheduled to be webcast on the website of the ticketing platform later this month.