No sooner did the trailer of Betaal drop online last week than Marathi screenwriters Sameer Wadekar and Mahesh Gosawi moved the Bombay supreme court , alleging that Netflix and Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment have lifted the plot of their zombie film, Vetaal.
"We had taken our script to many production houses. We hadn't pitched it to Red Chillies Entertainment, therefore the onus isn't on them, but on the platform that commissioned it. i have never been ready to find out how [the idea] reached them. i'm told the show went on floors in July 2019, a year after my script was registered with the Screen Writers' Association [SWA]. We've registered a complaint with the SWA too," said Wadekar, hours after the hearing on Friday.
While Betaal — written by Patrick Graham and Suhani Kanwar — revolves around a counter-insurgency squad that aims to displace tribals from a village, Wadekar claimed their Marathi feature is centred on an environmentalist who opposes a company that tries to chase away the villagers.
Drawing parallels, he said, "There are a minimum of 10 plot points that are similar. we've depicted zombies as descendants of the Vetaal army from Shivaji's era while, in Betaal, they're shown as belonging to British era. We had written a sequence where the military dances to ethnic music during a procession. an identical scene is included in their trailer."
Though the supreme court dismissed their petition to place a stay the show, he features a glimmer of hope. "The court has affirmed that we will seek damages if the plagiarism charges are proved."
Netflix remained unavailable for comment.