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Marathi filmmaker Sarika Mene accuses Shoojit Sircar of plagiarism


Filmmaker Hemal Trivedi put up a Facebook post suggesting that Varun Dhawan-starrer October is plagiarised from Sarika Mene's 2017 film, Aarti: The Unknown Love Story.

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October (2018) director Shoojit Sircar's latest romantic tragedy might have received unabashed praise from the critics, but it is now at the centre of a plagiarism claim. Marathi filmmaker Sarika Mene has filed a complaint against Sircar at the Vile Parle police station for plagiarising her story for the film. Mene claims that October is plagiarised from her film, Aarti: The Unkown Love Story (2017). 

October review: An intimate, emotional journey

Mene's film was released in August 2017, with its trailer present on YouTube. Mid-Day quoted Mene saying that she noticed the similarities between October and her own film when she watched it. She said, "I want the audience to watch both films and be impartial in their opinion. When I watched October, I realised that the emotions and characters portrayed are similar. Only a few things don't match." 

The director also filed complaints with the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Chitrapat Maha Mandal, which represents Marathi filmmakers, and the trade bodies Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association and Screen Writers Association.

October is inspired from a personal incident, says director Shoojit Sircar

Aarti: The Unknown Love Story is based on the life of Mene's brother, Sunny Pawar. When Pawar's girlfriend met with an accident in 2006, he took care of her for four years, giving up on his education. The story became quite famous, before Mene turned it into a film. 

The trailer, and the narration of the story, does feature several similarities with Sircar's October. In Sircar's film, Varun Dhawan plays a hotel management trainee who gives up on work, and family to care for a colleague. There are differences as well, where October portrayed the two protagonists as being colleagues, Aarti: The Unkown Love Story portrays them as being in a relationship. However, the makers of the film have denied any allegations of plagiarism.

The similarities were first noticed by New York-based filmmaker, Hemal Trivedi, who put up a post remarking about the film. Trivedi wrote, 'The filmmakers of October never acquired any rights to the Marathi film and they never contacted Sarika (the director). Sarika is now so depressed that she is almost suicidal. For the past couple of days she has been knocking on doors of various associations in India — but none have offered any concrete help. She has already spent about 2 lacs in trying to get justice [sic].' 

Despite the denial, Sircar and the makers of October issued a statement, quoted by Scroll.in, saying, "We understand that there are some allegations of copyright infringement against our film ‘October’. We are creative people and have full faith in our work and our team, which has given extraordinary films like Piku, Pink etc. We have not heard of the film ‘Aarti’ nor do we have full details of the matter as yet. We are sensitive towards feelings of filmmakers. We will look into this and deal with it appropriately."