The recently concluded Colors Screen Awards kicked up a controversy when filmmaker Sanjay Gupta, who was one of the jury members for the awards, alleged that Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara -- joint winner of Best Picture trophy along with The Dirty Picture -- was a copy of a hit 1985 American film Fandango, and so shouldn't have won. Now fellow jury member Kunal Kohli jumps into the controversy with allegations.
The Sanjay Gupta-Kunal Kohli war of words has just intensified.
The row over jury decision to give the Best Picture award jointly to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and The Dirty Picture took a new course with Kohli insinuating that Gupta's interest in The Dirty Picture has to do with his next film being produced by the The Dirty Picture producer Ekta Kapoor.
Gupta retorts, "If Ekta Kapoor is my producer, Eros, who produced ZNMD are the producer of his film. How guilty does that make him when he goes home and makes calls on the sly asking fellow-jurors for a re-vote? I don't think he's in a position to talk of jury ethics. How would Kunal feel as a director if his film won and a juror started making calls to other jurors to change their decision? TDP won all the major awards. So it wasn't as if I voted for a non-starter. All this rubbish takes away the rightful credit from the film and that is sad."
Sanjay Gupta is infuriated by the fact that his support for the film for Best Picture at the Screen awards has been made to look like a personal bias against ZNMD.
He makes his stand clear: "I have nothing against Farhan or Zoya (Akhtar). I have always admired and appreciated their work. When I walked in to the meeting, it was a hung jury. I gave my vote to The Dirty Picture not because of Fandango but because I believed The Dirty Picture was a better film as proven by the fact that it won six major awards including awards for acting, writing and most importantly, direction."
Gupta further says that even jury head Shekhar Kapur was convinced by the similarities between ZNMD and Fandango.
"Shekhar Kapur said 'Zindagi is out' in the first 30 seconds of watching the Fandango trailer. A jury comprising of such eminent names such as (directors) Pradeep Sarkar, John Matthew Mattan, Shekhar Kapur, Rensil de Silva, (costume designer) Bhanu Athaiya etc cannot be swayed because of anything irrational I say. So let's not be sore losers here," Gupta says.
The director gives his final word on the issue, "Being a filmmaker, I believe a film that wins best director deserves to win best film. And the entire jury voted for Milan Luthria, no contest."
He signs off, "I am done with all this jury nonsense for the rest of my life."