The raging controversy over the credit for the story in '3 Idiots' escalated on Saturday with director Rajkumar Hirani accusing author Chetan Bhagat of "lying" despite agreeing to several conditions, including a rolling credit in a contract.
Hirani, who also shares the writing credit with scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi in the Aamir Khan-starrer, said Bhagat had approved the film's script and agreed to the condition that it would be different from his book.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Hirani showed the contract signed with Bhagat, whose novel "Five Point Someone" became the basis for the film. The director said he had made a four-hour narration of the script to the author.
"We never denied Bhagat the credit. I am confused as to why is he saying all these things after the film's release. We have not stolen the story, we have purchased the rights of the book and can modify or change it as per our requirements. There is nothing illegal in it. Chetan is lying," Hirani said.
He said that as per the contract signed between Bhagat and producers of the film, it was obligatory on part of the latter to mention in rolling credits that the film was based the novel.
"His name appears immediately after the main cast in the rolling credits. If he wanted to see his name in opening part of the film, he should have asked us after reading the contract itself. I am a writer and I respect writers," Hirani said.
Reacting to Hirani's statement, Bhagat accused the film-makers of abusing the contract.
"They abused the contract and thought that they can hide the credit. They made a new credit that is of story, which gives the wrong impression that the original story was written by Abhijat and Hirani but it is my story they adapted from.
"They should have mentioned novel's name in 'Adapted By' or they should have mentioned my name in the story credit," Bhagat said.
Film's producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra had to apologise to the media after he told a journalist to "shut up" during a press meet last evening in Noida when he questioned him about Bhagat's allegations.
"I really think it was silly. I was provoked as you guys know but I should not have done that. It does not befit me. I was shouting 'shut up! shut up!' like an animal. What I did was silly and I am really sorry," Chopra said today.
Aamir also blasted Bhagat, accusing him of trying to gain "cheap publicity".
"He (Chetan) was saying something else three months ago, but he has changed his tunes now that the film has become a hit. He is using the media to gain publicity," Aamir said.
Hirani said he had liked the novel and had told Bhagat that the script of the film he intended to make would be different.
"I had asked Chetan if he was okay with the script turning out differently from the novel and whether he would like to be associated with the film. He told me that he had liked the script and would want to be associated with the movie," Hirani said.
"The book is not more than five per cent in the film," he said, adding that Bhagat had been paid his dues by Chopra even before the release of the film.