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Can’t compromise on integrity for an award: Writer Akshat Ghildial on Badhaai Ho credit row

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 23-03-2019 priyanka sharma

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Months after the stupendous success of Badhaai Ho, the film has found itself in a writer’s credit controversy. The credit controversy surfaced when writer Jyoti Kapoor expressed her disappointment over the removal of her name from the best story nomination for Badhaai Ho at the upcoming Filmfare Awards. Jyoti was allegedly developing a story for Junglee Pictures from the same idea as that of Badhaai Ho- ‘a mother gets pregnant’- before the production house went ahead with the story said to be written by Akshat Ghildial and Shantanu Srivastava.

After Jyoti said her name should be reinstated in the Filmfare nominations, Akshat and Shantanu issued a joint statement saying they had pulled out of the nomination as they did not want to share the credit with someone, who had “nothing to do with Badhaai Ho.”

Now, in an interview with, Akshat, who is also credited with the film’s screenplay and dialogues, shares his side of the story and also appeals to Jyoti to put out her script to end the confusion.

Could you take us back to 2012 when you first thought of this story?

The idea came pretty naturally to me because my mausi is just 10 years older than me. My mom was 18 when she was born. It was something that was always joked or talked about in the family. This idea had been somewhere in the back of my mind for quite some time. Then in 2012, I was doing a campaign for an advertising agency and I came up with a concept about a mother getting pregnant. A couple of the dialogues that you see in the film are also in the television commercial script. That was thankfully never presented to the client. It just stayed in my inbox. A little before I shifted to Mumbai, I felt this could be a film in itself.

After Jyoti Kapoor said her name should be reinstated in the Filmfare nominations, Akshat and Shantanu issued a joint statement saying they had pulled out of the nomination.

Shantanu (co-writer with Akshat) is an old friend and I stayed with him in Mumbai. I discussed the idea with him and he really liked it. He discussed the idea with Amit Sharma (director) and Amit jumped on it. I had already started working on it. Shantanu and I were already in the process of developing the story. I didn’t know anyone at Junglee. So, Junglee came to know about Amit developing an idea like this. They were developing this with Jyoti, I believe. The one line idea for it was the same. That’s where all the confusion starts. She had written something else.

When did you get to know that something similar was being developed at Junglee Pictures?

When Junglee approached Amit, we got to know about it. People at Junglee thought there’s no sense for two people to make films on the same idea. So, Priti (Sahani, Junglee Pictures) wanted to compare which one she wanted to go with. It seemed that she liked the one that we developed. We were told that Jyoti had worked on that one-line idea and she had developed the story on that basis but I believe even the concept wasn’t hers.

Look at the film’s end credits, the concept is attributed to Somen Mishra. Jyoti was given the credit for ‘Story for Junglee Pictures.’ She has nothing to do with Badhaai Ho. I don’t think there’s any similarity between the two stories. She had mentioned the plot of her story in one of the interviews, which said, ‘Kids come back to the hometown as their mother gets pregnant.’

“I even told her that if she has a problem with me saying that the film has nothing to do with her, she can put out her script,” Akshat says.

If she can put out her script, we can compare notes. She also approached me on mail and said, ‘You have been telling everyone that I have nothing to do with Badhaai Ho.’ And I told her that’s the truth. Neither Amit, Shantanu nor me have ever met her. We don’t know what she has written. She was never present on the set.

What happens is, when you put out a tweet like that, it somehow indirectly implicates the other two writers as not being truthful about having written the film. It’s as if we built it on the material that she developed, which is not the case. That’s why we decided if our integrity is being questioned, because she is asking for her name to be reinstated, let’s just withdraw our nomination. You don’t compromise on your integrity to win an award.


If she was credited alongside both of you in the film, why not share the nomination with her?

She wasn’t credited along with us, She was credited separately for ‘Story for Junglee Pictures’. She had put a litigation. I was a first time film writer, so I was asked, ‘Do you have a problem with her name in the film, because that (putting her name) will help get the film made.’ I said, ‘Okay, as long as her name doesn’t come with us,’ because it’s evident that the film that has come out it’s by our story, my screenplay and dialogues so, it was decided her credit would be ‘Story for Junglee Pictures’.

The point is, a story is not a one line idea. And if it’s about the one-liner then it seems that has come from Somen. When the film released, she was putting all positive reviews and said, ‘When your favourite reviewer loves your film, it feels great.’ She kind of appropriated the credit on Twitter for Daadi being one of the characters. She was taking all the congratulatory messages as if she has written the film. It’s just not right. Every review had her name as well.

Neena Gupta in a still from Badhaai Ho.

Jyoti has mentioned about a certain Aman Gill, who used to work with Junglee Pictures and apparently told her that Amit was posted on the developments of her script.

That’s not right. If I developed this idea in 2012 for a TVC, then I don’t need help from anyone. Amit never mentioned to us about speaking to Aman Gill. I was developing it despite Amit. I approached him, not the other way around.

There’s a big difference between the two. That’s why I keep referring to the TVC. I even told her that if she has a problem with me saying that the film has nothing to do with her, she can put out her script. It’s as simple as that. She addressed every other point that I raised on the mail except this one.

When did Jyoti reach out to you?

A couple of months ago. I was supposed to be a part of the panel discussion and when I learnt that she was also invited as the co-writer of Badhaai Ho, I pulled out. I wasn’t going to legitimise her claim. And then she wrote to me, saying, I was badmouthing her. I told her I didn’t need to. I also told her that I can show her the idea developed for the ad company.

Surekha Sikri in Badhaai Ho.

Jyoti also claims that Priti had apologised to her and told her that whatever happened shouldn’t have happened.

I wasn’t briefed about this. This is something Jyoti is saying, but she is also saying that she is a part of Badhaai Ho. So, I have very little reason to believe whatever she is saying.

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