Article Hindi

Qaidi Band, Lucknow Central have one thing in common — a band of prisoners

Does the Yash Raj Film production have a plot similar to that of Ranjeet Tiwari's Lucknow Central?

Mayur Lookhar

On 18 July, Yash Raj Films (YRF) released the trailer of Qaidi Band that marks the debut of Aadar Jain and Delhi girl Anya Singh.

Director Habib Faisal and YRF did well to keep the plot under wraps, but with the trailer, the rough plot has been revealed. It is a tale of seven undertrials who form a band in the hope that their performance and good conduct will see them out of jail soon.

We were immediately reminded of another upcoming film Lucknow Central which is also said to be based around a band of prisoners.

Lucknow Central was announced last year, with Farhan Akhtar in the lead. The film also has Deepak Dobriyal, Ronit Roy and Diana Penty in the cast. Except that it is based on jail inmates forming a band, nothing much is known about Lucknow Central.

Qaidi Band trailer revealed that the film is inspired by true events. Is that the case with Lucknow Central, too?

Despite repeated attempts, Lucknow Central director Ranjit Tiwari didn’t respond to our queries. We spoke to Lucknow Central writer Aseem Arora who also refused to comment. “I’m sorry, but I cannot say anything. You’ll have to speak to the producer or the director,” said Arora.

A reliable source from Lucknow Central, though, had this to say, “I wasn’t aware of any other film being made on such a subject, but now that you have told me, I’m tempted to look at the Qaidi Band trailer. From what you have told me, the prime plot looks similar.”

When we asked if Lucknow Central had a mix of Indian and foreign undertrials like Qaidi Band, the source replied, “No, I cannot talk about our film, but I’d like to believe that our film is slightly different.”

Is it mere coincidence that two films have the prime plot of a band of prisoners?

Qaidi Band writer-director Habib Faisal said, “My understanding is that as filmmakers we take our material from the world around us. At any given point, there must be at least 100 people getting inspired by the same story ideas, same subject. When I made Do Dooni Chaar (2010), there was another film (Daayen Ya Baayen) that was about a teacher getting a car. It had Deepak Dobriyal in it. I only got to know of the film when both films were selected at the New York Film Festival. So, back then the two directors thought of making a film around the state of teachers, both of us ended up as using a car for the teacher, but the two stories were very different. There Deepak Dobriyal had won a car through a lottery and he didn’t know what to do with it. In my film, the protagonist and his family aspired to buy a car. So, there will be such coincidences.”

It must be recalled that last year Salman Khan’s Sultan and Aamir Khan’s Dangal were both based on wrestling. However, as it turned out, the two films have two vastly different stories to tell. Post the release, Sultan director Ali Abbbas had later told the media that before filming Sultan he had a word with Dangal writer and director Nitesh Tiwari to ensure that there is no similarity in the two scripts.

Faisal said that no such discussion has been considered with Ranjit Tiwari or Nikhil Advani (Lucknow Central producer). “No, we didn’t discuss anything with them. Screenplays grow organically. I have a certain approach to the issues and the problems, if at all I discovered that there were any commonalities then changed (my script)… a script it must be treated like a tapestry, if you change one thread, then you’ll, end up changing a lot of things. We didn’t get into that,” replied Faisal.

But since Lucknow Central was announced first, did that make YRF rethink Qaidi Band? “Aditya Chopra and me were of the view that they would have a different story. Chopra and I were very passionate about doing the film. We are already in the process of casting, so we were not rattled by their announcement. We just thought that we are making our own film and they are making theirs.”

While Lucknow Central was announced first, it is Qaidi Band that will hit the theatres on 25 August. Farhan Khan had announced that their film would be released on 15 September. Doesn’t that give Qaidi Band an upper hand?

“Hypothetically speaking, yes, but the advantage always comes from the content.  If the content is strong, I’m sure both of them will find their audience,” Faisal concluded.

While we’ve got the Qaidi Band point of view, despite repeated attempts, there was no word from Lucknow Central director Ranjit Tiwari and producer Advani.