Actor and stand-up comedian Vir Das, OTT platform Netflix and two others have been charged by the Mumbai Police under the Copyright Act following a complaint by a producer who alleged that the four violated a 2010 agreement regarding a script and show titled, “History of India VIRitten (2010)’ using concept and content from the show for a new show called ‘Virdas for India’. Netflix was booked allegedly for airing the show in 2020.
Indian Express reached out to Das and Netflix but did not receive their comments by press time. The comedian was in the news this week after right-wing group Janajagruthi Vedike urged the Bengaluru police to cancel the permit granted to his stand-up comedy show in the city after Das allegedly made derogatory remarks against women, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India in a show in John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC last November, which “tainted the nation”, the outfit added. The actor was also criticized in Gujarat by the Vadodra unit of the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which filed a complaint with the district collector in June this year, asking for his show to be canceled in the state. the same reason cited in Bengaluru.
In the allegation of copyright infringement, an FIR was registered by the Cuffe Parade police station on November 4 under sections 51 (infringement of copyright) and 63 (offences for infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by this Act) of the Copyright Act, 1957 against Vir Das, Anurag Shrivastav, Girish Talwar – all three directors of “Weirdas Comedy private ltd” and Netflix Entertainment Services India LLPLoS Gatos Production services.
The complainant is Ashwin Gidwani, a producer who is the managing director of Ashwin Gidwani production private limited. On 14 October 2010, Gidwani said in his complaint that he and Vir Das had entered into an agreement to jointly script and show a show titled “History of India VIRitten (2010)”.
Gidwani claimed to have all the copyrights regarding the script and the show. The show became a hit in India and overseas according to Gidwani. After the success of the show in 2019, Das discussed with Gidwani via emails about releasing the show on Netflix with minor changes.
For some reason, Gidwani and Das had a disagreement over releasing the show on Netflix. Gidwani later learned that Das had created a new show called “Virdas for India”, which took ideas and parts from an old show called “History of India VIRitten (2010)”.
On 23 January 2020, Gidwani saw a promotional video of the show “Virdas for India” aired on Netflix, where Das used the concept and content from “History of India VIRitten (2010)” On the same day, Gidwani filed a legal notice against Netflix and Das. The next day he received a reply from them that there was no copyright infringement. On January 26, 2020, the show was released on Netflix.
On 30 January 2020, Gidwani filed a complaint at Marine Drive Police Station, which was forwarded to Cuffe Parade Police Station. Gidwani followed up on the issue a few days ago and again lodged a fresh complaint with the senior police officer after which an FIR was registered.
Gidwani said – Das, Anurag Shrivastav, Girish Talwar – all the three directors of “Weirdas Comedy private ltd” have entered into an agreement with Netflix, which is against the 2010 agreement between Das and Gidwani. Netflix was booked to air the show despite the legal notice. Gidwani presented video of the shows and email communications with Das and a legal notice delivered to Netflix as evidence.