Prem Kumar, the director of the film 96, refuted all charges of plagiarism levelled against him at a press meet today. The event was attended by several other directors including Thiyagarajan Kumararaja, Balaji Tharaneedharan and Marudhu Pandian who expressed solidarity with him.
Earlier, Suresh, an assistant director to Bharathiraja, had staked claim to the story a week after the release of the movie. Suresh claimed he had written a script titled 92 which he had shown to Bharathiraja, who after the release of 96, was ‘shocked’ to find similarities between the stories.
He said he had narrated his script to Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkirathu director Marudhu Pandian who he claims leaked the story details to Prem Kumar when the duo was working together on 96. “I knew my friend was working on a film, but it never hit me that 96 and 92 were the same. Industry talk was that Prem’s film was a completely different one,” he said.
As Silverscreen reported earlier, Prem Kumar has refuted all claims. At the press meet, he produced “evidence” to show 96 was indeed his script, evidence which included rough drafts, notebooks with the script written by hand, and a registered copy of the script to show that he had indeed worked on the story.
“I registered this story as 96 with the South Indian Film Writers’ Association in April 2016. It was only after having penned this script completely did I even take up the story for discussion. I first told this story to Balaji Tharaneetharan then Vijay Sethupathy and finally to producer Nandagopal,” Prem Kumar said.
Prem Kumar also responded to certain allegations that a camera person could not have written a full-fledged script. He said, “I don’t know what sort of a question that is because in this very state of Tamil Nadu, Balu Mahendra sir, who was a cameraman, wrote, directed and even acted. I have presented my evidence before you. I have presented before you all the notebooks, documents and records of what all I have written and from where this story of 96 came.”
Prem said that these allegations have only surfaced after 96 found success, and offers of Telugu remakes came his way. Prem Kumar also pointed out that there was a considerable gap between when the film was first announced and when it was released, and that they had promoted the film a number of times in the interim. He said that no objections or complaints were raised in this period.
Prem Kumar said that though he was invited to Bharathiraja’s home for discussions he declined the offer thinking it was inappropriate. Prem Kumar said that Suresh will need to produce the evidence he claims to have, and that Suresh should have taken up the issue with the South Indian Film Writers Association.