Javed Akhtar to Shekhar Kapur on Mr India: I gave it to you

Mumbai: Poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar

The “Mr India” war is now being fought among its original creators. After Shekhar Kapur, director of the 1987 original, slammed the makers of an upcoming remake trilogy for not acknowledging him, and actress Sonam Kapoor took up cudgels on behalf of her father Anil Kapoor, who had starred in that film, it is now the turn of writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar to join. Akhtar contends the film is actually his idea and that he had given it to Kapur.

“Shekhar saheb the story the situations the scenes the characters the dialogue the lyrics even the title none of these were yours. I gave it all to you. Yes you execute it very well but how can your claim on the film be more than mine. It wasn’t your idea. It wasn’t your dream,” wrote @Javedakhtarjadu on Friday.

Akhtar’s tweet was a reaction to Shekhar Kapur’s latest outburst over the remake on Twitter, on Thursday.

“The argument on a remake of #MrIndia is not that no one took permission from me or even bothered to tell me. The question is. If you are remaking a feature film, based on a director’s very successful work, does the Director have no creative rights over what he/she created?” @shekharkapur had tweeted.

Akhtar co-wrote “Mr India” with Salim Khan and also penned the lyrics for Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the film. In fact, the script marked the culmination of a fruitful union of the celebrated writer duo Salim-Javed, who had belted out several memorable scripts in the seventies including “Andaz” (1971), “Haathi Mere Saathi” (1971), “Seeta Aur Geeta” (1972), and “Yaadon Ki Baarat” (1973). Salim-Javed also penned some of the films that cemented Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic angry young man image, such as “Zanjeer” (1973), “Majboor” (1974), “Deewar” (1975), “Sholay” (1975), “Trishul” (1978), “Don” (1978), “Kaala Patthar” (1979), “Dostana” (1980), “Shaan” (1980) and “Shakti” (1982).

Unconfirmed reports have often stated that Salim-Javed wrote the original “Mr India” with Big B in mind too, to utilise the actor’s rich baritone, in a character that would remain invisible on screen.

Storm over the new “Mr India” started soon after director Ali Abbas Zafar announced the project mid February. “Excited to partner with @ZeeStudios_for an epic trilogy #MrIndia! It is a huge responsibility to carry forward an iconic character loved by everyone. Currently, working on the script, no actor has been locked till now. Once we lock the first draft of the script, casting begins!” wrote @aliabbaszafar.

Soon, Kapur took to Twitter to declare that “no one has even asked me or mentioned to me about this film called Mr India 2”. A few days later, Sonam Kapoor avered: “My father didn’t even know the film was being remade, we found out about it through social media when @aliabbaszafar tweeted. It’s quite disrespectful and underhanded if it is true.”