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After writer’s complaint, Kerala Film Chamber denies title of ‘Higuita’ for a movie

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Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce has rejected the title of ‘Higuita’ for a filmmaker’s debut movie after noted writer N. S. Madhavan alleged that the venture had taken away his rights on title of a movie based on his popular short story, ‘Higuita’.

The executive committee of the chamber, the apex body of trade bodies in Malayalam film industry, acted after Mr. Madhavan submitted a complaint stating that the makers have not taken his consent to use the title. “We would not be able to give the clearance for the title. The people behind the movie should have consulted the writer before finalising the title,” said G. Suresh Kumar, president of Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. The Film Chamber provides the title and publicity clearance certificates before a movie is submitted for certification by CBFC. .

Mr. Madhavan thanked the chamber after it was informed that the name ‘Higuita’ will not be used for the movie. “I wish young director Hemanth Nair and his film all success,” he said.

However, the filmmaker pointed out that his movie has no resemblance to Mr. Madhavan’s short story or the characters in it. “My film is a political thriller in which actor Suraj Venjaramoodu plays the lead role of a political leader. The name Higuita was finalised keeping in mind the former Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita. The lead character played by Suraj in the movie is like a goalkeeper, who tries to save his party against all odds. The title of the movie was announced through the social media handle of eight actors in 2019,” he said.

K. Satchidanandan, poet-critic, who supported Mr. Madhavan’s position, stated that the people behind the movie should have shown a primary courtesy by consulting the writer before deciding on the movie’s title. “The Malayalee readers and art lovers got familiar with Higuita through Madhavan’s short story. Moviegoers, who wish to watch the movie thinking that it is based on the writer’s story, will feel betrayed,” he said.

Dr. N. S Gopalakrishnan, former Director of the Inter-University Centre for IPR Studies at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, said that the title alone of a literary work cannot be protected under copyright law. “The names of literary works and movies have been re-used on several occasions,” he said.

The netizens were divided over the controversy as many asked whether the writer had sought permission from the former professional Colombian footballer before naming his short story. Mr. Madhavan’s supporters claimed that they came to know about Higuita after the writer named it for his short story.

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