Netflix’s Betaal, the first Indian series in the zombie horror space and produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, has landed in a controversy. Marathi screenwriters Sameer Wadekar and Mahesh Gosawi have alleged that the series, released on 24 May, has lifted the plot from their zombie film Vetaal, as per a report by mid-day. The duo have moved the Bombay High Court regarding the matter.
Wadekar said that they had already narrated their script to a number of production houses.
“We wouldn’t blame Red Chillies Entertainment as we didn’t approach them, but the fault lies with the platform that commissioned Betaal. It has been brought to my notice that Betaal went on floors in July 2019, a year after my script was registered with the Screen Writers’ Association (SWA). We have written to them too”.Sameer Wadekar to mid-day
The hearing on this case took place on Friday, 22 May. Wadekar also alleged that while Betaal revolves around a counter-insurgency squad who wants to displace tribals from a village, their Marathi film recounts the story of an environmentalist who raises his voice against a mining company that tries to force villagers to leave their hometown.
The screenwriter also pointed out that there are a number of similarities they have found out in Betaal. “In Vetaal, we have shown that zombies have descended from the Vetaal army in Shivaji’s era, while in the Netflix series they are shown to belong to the British era. Likewise, there are other striking resemblances too.
Though the court has dismissed the petition to put a stay on the show, Wadekar said that they have been assured they can claim damage if the plagiarism charges are proved.
Starring Viineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai, Jitendra Joshi, Jatin Goswami, Manjiri Pupala and Syna Anand, Betaal is set in a remote village, where a two-century-old East India Company Colonel, infected with the Betaal’s curse, and his battalion of blood-thirsty zombie redcoats are released from their tomb - attacking every human being. The CIPD (Counter Insurgency Police Department) forces fight the undead army, with civilians trapped in the battle.
(With inputs from mid-day)