The Delhi High Court has vacated an earlier stay order on the Hindi-dubbed version of the Telugu film ‘Bheemla Nayak’, a remake of the Malayalam original version ” Ayyappanum Koshiyum.”
The present suit has been filed by Plaintiff (JA Entertainment) seeking a permanent injunction restraining defendants (Sithara Entertainment and others) alleging it infringes Plaintiff’s copyright in respect of Remake and Dubbing Rights of the film in the Hindi language. The plaintiff sought to stay on dubbing the Telugu film “Bheemla Nayak” in Hindi as they have the right to the Hindi remake of the Malayalam original.
“..a copyright owner has a right to dub the Telugu film in any language including Hindi and Plaintiff cannot assert any right to restrain Defendant No. 1 from dubbing the Telugu film in Hindi..” said Justice Jyoti Singh in a recently passed order.
As per the plea, the Plaintiff’s creative team came across a Malayalam film ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’ – which was released on February 7, 2020, and was a huge success commercially. Plaintiff decided to remake the film in the Hindi language and being a commercially lucrative venture, Plaintiff approached the producer and got the Hindi Remake Rights in the Malayalam film.
As per the Agreement, Plaintiff was assigned the exclusive, perpetual and irrevocable ‘Remake and Dubbing’ rights, to be exercised in all modes, mediums and formats. The rights assigned, to the extent relevant for the present case included: (a) the sole right to make a new cinematograph film based on the Malayalam film in Hindi language; (b) right to dub the Malayalam film as well as the Hindi remake in any or all languages; and (c) right to subtitle in any language for any purpose through any media. Around July, 2020 Plaintiff commenced pre-production of the Hindi Remake in accordance with rights granted under the Agreement dated May 13, 2020.
Meanwhile, the defendant said that they acquired copyrights in the story and for re-making and dubbing the Malayalam film into Telugu and subtitling rights into all Indian and world languages, without any geographical restrictions as well as to exploit the same throughout the world in all formats and media. The assignment thus included the right to exploit the remade Telugu film in all formats including by dubbing in all other languages.
After the arguments of both parties, the single-judge bench also said,”…in my prima facie view, Defendants are right in their argument that the test of infringement in the present case is not the degree of similarity between the Telugu film dubbed in Hindi and the Malayalam film dubbed in Hindi, but the test is whether dubbing the Telugu film in Hindi in order to communicate it to the public infringes on any exclusive right of the Plaintiff, which is not the case here..”
While the Malayalam original – Ayyappanum Koshiyum was written and directed by Sachy, it starred Prithviraj and Biju Menon in lead roles. The Telugu version Bheemla Nayak – directed by Saagar K Chandra, starred Pawan Kalyan, Rana Daggubati, Nithya Menen and Samyuktha Menon.