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Karishma battle takes new turn

Calcutta, July 3: A new round in the copyright fight over the airing of Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny began today, casting a shadow on the telecast date of the Sahara Manoranjan megaserial.

A Calcutta High Court division bench hearing the appeal filed by author Barbara Taylor Bradford against the June 30 verdict vacating the stay order on the telecast effective July 7, continued the order till affidavits are called for or the case is disposed, whichever is earlier.

During today’s daylong proceedings, Justice A. . Ray, who is hearing the case with Justice J. Banerjee, expressed willingness, if the appeal continues, to consider making available primary evidence, like tapes of the episodes that have been shot so far. The hearing will continue on Friday.

The Manhattan-based author of A Woman of Substance has accused the channel of lifting the plot of her 1979 novel. The show premiered on May 13, but was pulled off the air following a Supreme Court injunction.

Justice Ray today raised questions as to how Bradford could know for a fact that the material to be broadcast was an infringement of her work. Counsel for Bradford, P.C. Sen, submitted that the script had not been made available. Sachin Bhowmik, scriptwriter for the series, had submitted in court a copy of his story, Aparajita, on which he claims the show is based, but it has been made available to Bradford.

Much of Bradford’s case is based on interviews given to the media by producer Akashdeep Sabir, where he admits that the show, starring Karisma Kapoor, is based on A Woman of Substance. An interview given to a film magazine has been submitted as evidence, where Sabir is quoted as saying the show is an “Indianised, revised and modernised” version of the best-selling novel, referring to particular characters in Bradford’s work that have parallels in this version. Sabir admits having given the interview, but says the published version is not true to his statements.

Justice Ray said “it is true that hundreds of Hindi films” have “stolen” scripts. Commenting on the author’s right to chose who he or she wants to sell a work to, he drew a comparison with J.R.R. Tolkein, who, the judge said, had been approached with an offer to make a musical out of Lord of the Rings. Tolkein, Justice Ray added, rejected this as he did not think songs should be introduced to the story.

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