February 9, 2009
Kiran Kumar Koneru entered into film production with Homam film. His latest film Siddham is due for the release on 12 February. He is currently fighting a legal battle against UTV for the Telugu remake rights of 'A Wednesday'. He gives us a blow-by-blow account of the whole communication and court battle that is taking place in this exclusive interview –
Row with UTV over Telugu remake rights of 'A Wednesday'
It was Sunil Wadhwa (UTV) who confirmed the signing amount of 21 lakhs for Telugu remake rights of 'A Wednesday' film. He also asked for 1.8 lakhs towards VAT. The total amount for which I gave three cheques was to the tune of 55 lakhs (including TDS) to UTV on 4th December. Sunil Wadhwa said that it would take a week to do the paper work by the legal department. I was given a receipt of accepting cheques. I went to Dubai right the next day for the shooting of my film Siddham. Then Sunil Wadhwa said that the payment should be done in foreign currency as their parent company is in Mauritius. I told Sunil that I would check with the forex officials of my bank to know the procedure to pay money in foreign currency. After I went to Dubai, Sunil stopped attending my phone calls. We completed our shoot on 12 December in Dubai. When I contacted Sunil again, he said that a big star came in touch with his chairman. And UTV would not give remake rights to me as they decided to produce on their own.
I gave cheques to UTV and it is not my problem if they did not deposit the cheques. I had the required amount available in my bank account on that day. I gave advances to cast and crew members. Those were not token advances, but major payments were done. We got bulk dates of all artists as we want to complete it in a single schedule consisting 45 days.
UTV's contention was that they did not sign any agreement and they did not deposit the cheques. UTV took me for granted and wanted to bulldoze me.
Hence I filed an injunction on remake of A Wednesday in Telugu in court around 20 December. The argument took over 15 days in court and UTV contended that though a negotiation was done, the amount is much higher. I had several sms on my phone from Sunil Wadhwa which clearly stated the remake rights price, VAT details etc. I also deposited phone as the evidence with the court.
There is a contention that an agreement should be made on paper. But recently High Court gave a ruling a communication on electronic format can also be considered as a contract.
Film Industry runs on verbal commitments and mutual trust. The fight is between Shreya productions and UTV for Telugu remake rights of 'A Wednesday'. I have nothing against the cast and crewmembers (Kamal Hassan, Mohan Lal and Chakri) associated with Tamil project.
In the recent hearing UTV contended that they have no rights to sell the remake rights of 'A Wednesday' as the product belongs to the company situated in Mauritius. The high court has given UTV one more week to come with a better argument.
Legally and ethically we are correct. It is more about honor and dignity than money. We are prepared to go to Supreme Court if necessary. I want to teach the corporates a lesson for taking individuals for granted. UTV has rubbed an honest man in a wrong way, and I am going to teach them a lesson.
I would like to thank Jagapati Babu for signing in affidavit as a co-applicant in the case against UTV. That shows his involvement in movies and the kind of moral support he gives to his producers.
My father is a builder in Vizag and Hyderabad. I am into construction of roads and national highways in Madhya Pradesh. Krishna Vamsi and Chakri had been my friends for the past 15 years. We meet on regular basis and discuss about cinema. Homam film was started by somebody else and I had to take it over from them. We reworked on the film and changed the dynamics. I am of the opinion that whatever we do it should be good and we should pitch it up in a bigger scale.
I named our banner as Shreya Productions after my niece. Our logo is Swastik, which is an auspicious symbol in Indian history.
Did you make money on Homam?
I would not be honest to myself if I say that we made profits on Homam. I came to film industry out of passion and I am not expecting to make money in film industry. My work in other lines of business is my bread winner. I am making movies because it is giving me immense satisfaction.
Homam is the biggest budgeted film in the career of Jagapati Babu. A Jagapati Babu's film was released with 120 prints for the first time. Dil Raju supported us morally.
Tell us about Siddham film?
The story idea is by Ram Gopal Varma and he accepted to give it to us. Ram Gopal Varma has been a pillar of support for us throughout. He cares for us and he evaluated our promotional strategies of Siddham and Homam. Siddham film is done in a charged atmosphere and it possesses the right mood for a serious, yet entertaining film.
How many prints Siddham is releasing with?
Seventy prints and it will go up in further weeks.
What are your future projects?
Right now, my concentration is on winning the court case again UTV and promoting Siddham film.
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