The Delhi High Court has vacated an earlier stay order on the Hindi dubbed version of the Telugu film ‘Bheemla Nayak’, a remake of the original Malayalam version ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’. The current suit has been filed by the plaintiff (JA Entertainment) seeking a permanent injunction restraining the defendants (Sithara Entertainment and others) from infringing the plaintiff’s copyright in the Hindi remake and dubbing rights of the film. The plaintiff sought to stay the Hindi dubbing of the Telugu film “Bheemla Nayak” as it has the rights to the Hindi remake of the Malayalam original.
“…the copyright holder has the right to dub the Telugu film in any language including Hindi and the plaintiff cannot assert any right to prevent the defendant no.1 from dubbing the Telugu film in Hindi.” Justice Jyoti Singh said in a recently passed order.
According to the suit, the creative team of the plaintiff came across the Malayalam film “Ayyappanum Koshiyum” which was released on 7 February 2020 and was very successful commercially. The plaintiff decided to remake the film in Hindi and being a commercially lucrative venture, the plaintiff approached the producer and acquired the rights to remake the Hindi in a Malayalam film.
Pursuant to the Agreement, the plaintiff has been granted exclusive, perpetual and irrevocable remaking and dubbing rights which may be exercised in all modes, media and formats. The rights granted to the extent relevant to this case included: (a) the exclusive right to make a new cinematographic film based on a Malayalam film in Hindi; (b) the right to dub the Malayalam film as well as the Hindi remake in any or all languages; and (c) the right to subtitles in any language for any purpose through any medium. Around July 2020, the plaintiff began pre-production on the Hindi Remake pursuant to the rights granted under the agreement dated May 13, 2020.
Meanwhile, the defendant said that they have acquired the copyright of the story and the remaking and dubbing of the Malayalam film into Telugu and the rights of the subtitles in all Indian and world languages, without any geographical restrictions, as well as to exploit the same worldwide in all formats and media. So the assignment included the right to use the remade Telugu film in all formats including dubbing in all other languages.
After arguments from both sides, the single judge bench also said, “…in my view, the defendants are right in their contention that the test of infringement in this case is not the degree of similarity between the Telugu film. dubbed in Hindi and a Malayalam film dubbed in Hindi but the test is whether the dubbing of a Telugu film in Hindi for the purpose of communication to the public infringes any exclusive rights of the plaintiff, which in this case it does not..”