Prakash Raj-directed Tadka starring Nana Patekar runs into legal trouble

Actor-filmmaker Prakash Raj’s film Tadka, which is a remake of the 2014-Malayalam hit film Salt N' Pepper has landed into legal trouble. On February 4, 2019, the Bombay High Court summoned Prakash Raj after Essel Vision Productions Limited, the company which runs Zee Studios, who happen to be the producers of the film, filed a suit against the director. Tadka stars Nana Patekar, Taapsee Pannu, Shriya Saran, and Ali Fazal in lead roles.

It all started when Zee Studios approached the Bombay High Court on January 25, seeking enforcement of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Zee and Sameer Dixit-Jatish Verma (Brother-in-law of Raj)- partners in a production house called Movie Makers, which is in the business of acquisition and exploitation of copyright in motion pictures. Actor Prakash Raj owns a firm called Duet Movies, and Sameer Dixit-Jatish Verma had approached Zee Studios to produce Tadka and after all the discussions, a MoU was executed on March 10, 2016.

 “According to this MoU, Rs 4,25,00,000 plus taxes was paid by Zee Studios to Dixit and Verma. This MoU was not signed by Prakash Raj, and now Zee Studios has alleged that Prakash “purposely did not execute the said MoU, so as to calculatedly defeat the rights” of Zee Studios “in collusion and connivance with” Verma and Dixit,” as quoted by India Today. According to Zee Studios, when the MoU was being executed, Zee wasn’t shown any agreement between Prakash Raj, Jatish Verma and Sameer Dixit. However, they were told that Prakash Raj would be directing the film, and considering the relation between Raj and his brother-in-law, the former was also given the credit of producer in the film.

After the cast and cost of production were worked upon between Zee Studios and Prakash Raj, Jatish Verma and Dixit, 2017 was zeroed in for the release of the film but Tadkaa got delayed and was later set to release in 2019. Now, Zee Studios claims that under the MoU, the “Intellectual Property Rights of the film was jointly owned by them. While Zee Studios' share was 60 percent, Verma and Dixit had a 40 percent share, and according to the MoU, the exploitation rights of the film was “solely and completely vested” with Zee Studios. As per the agreement, if any of the parties had to sell their rights, then it would be only to each other.”

As a matter of fact, Zee Studios recently learned that Prakash Raj has already sold some of his rights to a financing company - Akshay Communications Pvt Ltd, which happens to have the right to the negatives of the film as well. According to the report, Dixit and Verma themselves had taken funds from another company called Swiss Entertainment Pvt Ltd, against which they had sold some of their rights.

During the court hearing on Monday, producers of the film, Zee Studios urged that the court should pass an order in their favour, handing over all the rights to them. However, advocate Rajesh Bindra, representing Akshay Communication, objected, saying that they had paid Rs 4.5 crore to Prakash Raj and so order in favor of Zee Studios could not be passed. Justice SJ Kathawalla of the Bombay High Court then ordered Prakash Raj to be present in court in the middle of the week to explain his stand.

And amidst all the hearings, Justice SJ Kathawalla issued an order stating that the film will not release without the permission of the court and as a result, Tadka has been put on hold. A few months back, Nana Patekar had to step down from Housefull 4 owing to sexual harassment allegations against him by Tanushree Dutta, who had renewed a decade-old case against Nana that took place on the sets of 2008-film Horn Ok Please.

For all those who don’t know, ever since 2009-film Wanted in which Prakash Raj played the role of a villain opposite Salman Khan, Raj has gone on to play the negative roles in films like Singham, and Dabangg 2. Prakash Raj has also starred in the Kannada, Tamil and Telugu versions of Tadka and the film revolves around the life of Nana Patekar and Shriya Saran.