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Hichki is official remake of Front Of The Class, says Yash Raj Films

Writer Nishant Kaushik had suggested that the films' trailer possesses striking similarities with a concept he had worked on two and a half years ago with director Siddharth P Malhotra.

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Writer Nishant Kaushik set the cat among the pigeons when he put out a Twitter thread wondering if Siddharth P Malhotra's upcoming film Hichki, starring Rani Mukerji, was based on the plot and story he had collaborated with the director on.

Kaushik suggested that Malhotra had approached him a couple of years ago to work on a plot but never returned with any information on the progress of the project.

Now, the Deccan Chronicle newspaper has quoted a spokesperson for Yash Raj Films as saying that Hichki is an official remake of Peter Werner's Front Of The Class (2008).

The Werner film was based on Brad Cohen's life story and book, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had. Cohen, who has Tourette's syndrome himself, was played by Jimmy Wolk in the film. 

Director Siddharth P Malhotra said in a statement, "I had acquired the rights to make Front Of The Class as a Hindi motion picture in 2013. Nishant Kaushik’s claims are baseless."

The director went on to add that he had met Kaushik through Exceed Entertainment when they were looking for writers for the project. He said, "We were looking for writers who could come up with a take on Front Of The Class. We had approached several writers, including Nishant. He was given a brief for the film, but the story and slant he came up with was not what we were looking for. So we did not proceed with him and Exceed was informed about my decision immediately. This was 2015."

Malhotra added that several other writers like Amole Gupte and Abbas Tyrewala were also approached for the project. "Several prominent writers like Amole Gupte, Abbas Tyrewala have worked on the story of Hichki and we have obtained NOCs [no-objection certificates] from them and I thank each one of them for being creative contributors of Hichki. We have credited all the writers who have worked in our film. So it is ridiculous that we will not give credit to anyone in particular who has worked hard and contributed for Hichki," his statement said. 

Kaushik, in his thread, had said he claims no copyright on the script or the story of Hichki. The writer's tirade was aimed more at Malhotra not informing him about any progress on the project. He wrote on Twitter, 'Does this mean Hichki is my story? NO. Does it mean I worked on it and was owed the courtesy of a response or acknowledgement of the effort I invested? HELL YES.' 

Deccan Chronicle also quoted the YRF spokesperson as saying, "YRF has acquired the rights to Brad’s book and changed the plot substantially. It is a brand-new film now. Brad Cohen’s life and journey is the inspiration for the film and Rani’s character. Everything else has been changed by the makers and Hichki narrates a completely new and uplifting story of a girl who is chasing her dreams despite limitations." 

The Hichki trailer, which was released yesterday, features Mukerji as a teacher afflicted with Tourette's, who takes on the challenge of teaching children from difficult circumstances. The film marks Mukerji's return to the big screen after Mardaani (2015). 

While Front Of The Class delved into Cohen's struggle with his parents and colleagues and eventually finding success by becoming a teacher, Hichki focuses on Mukerji's character's drive to teach children from a different strata of society who are treated as outsiders. 

Hichki has been directed by Malhotra and produced by Yash Raj Films and Maneesh Sharma. It is set to be released on 23 February 2018. Click here to try and predict the film's box-office performance.