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KriArj Entertainment, Easy Trip Planners, T-Series locked in legal battle over Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Nishant Pitti of Easy Trip Planners alleged that T-Series forged documents to takeover the film from them and KriArj Entertainment.

Bhushan Kumar and Prernaa Arora (Photo: Shutterbugs Images)

Mayur Lookhar

On 18 May T-Series had announced that it will now solely produce Batti Gul Meter Chalu, starring Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, with primary producer KriArj Entertainment no longer associated with the project. There was never any official reason given for the production giant parting ways with KriArj Entertainment.

The film is now mired in a legal battle with KriArj Entertainment accusing T-Series of fraud, while Easy Trip Planners Pvt. Ltd., who was brought on board by KriArj Entertainment as co-partner,  is also seeking reimbursement of investment it has made in addition to the agreed share from revenue. 

The matter was brought up in Delhi high court and a hearing was scheduled for 5 July.  Easy Trip Planners Pvt. Ltd. sent us the following note throwing light on the nature of the case, explaining what transpired in the court on 31 May.

"T-series through its lawyers Mason & Associates had filed a commercial suit before Delhi high court against KriArj Entertainment and Easy Trip Planners Pvt. Ltd. seeking permanent injunction and declaration in respect of certain rights in the film Batti Gul Meter Chalu.

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On the other hand, Easy Trip Planners through its lawyers Sandeep Bajaj and Aditya Chopra had also filed a suit against T-series seeking an injunction and declaration of right of first lien over the revenues of the movie.

'The Hon’ble Court while protecting the rights of all the stakeholders directed that any/all monies received by creating rights for exploitation and distribution of the said film shall be deposited in an escrow account which shall be subject to the court’s direction as the rights of KriArj [Entertainment] and [Easy Trip Planners] over the film needs to be adjudicated first.'

Speaking on the matter, Nishant Pitti, founder of Easy Trip Planners, says, “The total amount invested in the film is Rs50 crore, with T-Series and KriArj [Entertainment] putting in Rs25 crore each. We had an agreement with KriArj Entertainment in February, this year wherein we entered as a co-producer after we invested Rs14 crore in the film."

“T-Series announced on their own that they are taking over the project. They didn’t communicate anything to us. The remarkable thing is that when Bhushan Kumar was involved in a similar dispute with Kedarnath (2018), he got paid off by Ronnie Screwvala. However, when it comes to giving back, you can't be saying this is KriArj Entertainment's liabilitiy, not ours. We were fine with T-Series taking over our film [Batti Gul Meter Chalu] but we wanted them to pay back our Rs14 crore,” added Pitti.

First Kedarnath and Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, then Fanne Khan, and now Batti Gul Meter Chalu, the popular perception has been that KriArj Entertainament has been defaulting on payments.

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Prernaa Arora of KriArj Entertainment refused to comment on the current matter, but said, “I don’t wish to make any comment but I’m just glad that for the first time such issues are being addressed in a dignified manner, as opposed to what we’ve seen in the past. We at KriArj [Entertainment] never attacked anyone, but we’ve only defended ourselves. We fight the battle in court, and not in the media.”

According to a source, T-Series had allegedly forged documents to takeover the film from KriArj Enetertainment and Easy Trip Planners.

"KriArj [Enetertainment] had locked Shahid Kapoor much before and had the script by Vipul K Rawal. Shree Narayan Singh came on as a director later after the release of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017). His company Kriti Productions was added as a line producer. An MoU was signed between T-Series and KriArj [Enterainment] in August 2017. Back then the title of the film was Roshni. T-Series, produced a backdated (27 July 2017) document in court mentioning the title of the film as Batti Gul Meter Chalu with Shree Narayan Singh as director. However, this title only came into being in 2018, said the source."

Pitti also confirmed the same and alleged that T-Series forged documents to oust them. "In a one-page document dated 19 April, 2018, T-Series has written that KriArj [Enetertainment] and Easy Trip Planners have agreed to let go of their rights to the film, and they [T-Series] can produce it. However, it has no letter head of KriArj [Entertainment], no legal stamp, and the signature of KriArj's director too is forged. The intellectual property rights belong to KriArj Entertainment,” he said.

We sent a text message to T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar, but he remained unavailable for comment.

Later the company issued a statement through a spokesperson claiming that they moved to court to recover their investment, “Yes we have moved to high court against KriArj [Entertainment] for Batti Gul Meter Chalu. The case is basically to recover the investments we have made for the film thus enabling a smooth release. As the court is in their summer vacation session, we have got a new date. Also [Easy Trip Planners] did not get an injunction and T-Series is allowed to complete the film.”

While the matter will come up for hearing on 5 July, the film's shoot has not been impacted, “It doesn’t serve our purposes to seek an injunction against the film’s shoot. We will wait for the court’s order on 5 July,” concluded Pitti.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu was initially slated to be released on 31 August 2018, but it remains to be seen whether the film will be ready in time.