Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur Wednesday flatly denied charges of plagiarism levelled by director Dev Benegal, calling them "100 percent not true".
There have even been reports that the producers of Benegal's "Split Wide Open" were planning to sue Kapur for $60 million over the latter's film "Paani".
Said Benegal: "Terms like 'water mafia' have surfaced in his work and visuals that seem to be from my film were made into posters (for 'Paani') and shown at Cannes."
But, reacting to the accusation through his publicist from New Delhi, Kapur told IANS: "This is 100 percent not true".
He explained that the posters for "Paani" were designed following a shoot conducted by him and his art director Nitin Desai in the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai.
"The three designs that were displayed selectively as posters at the Cannes festival in May 2003 were adapted from approximately 100 photographs I had personally shot in Dharavi in March," Kapur said in an exclusive statement to IANS.
The photos were shot on Desai's digital camera. "The photographs still exist with me and Desai. If Benegal would only bother to corroborate his accusation with facts, these photos are available for anyone to see."
"Paani" is a futuristic tale about the impending water famine in Mumbai. Benegal's film "Split Wide Open" is also on the same theme.
Benegal said: "I think the time has come for a certain kind of accountability. To lift images from websites and use them as your posters...it really hurts when the colleague doing it is a friend.
"People cannot get away with such things. Shekhar should prepare himself for a tough time ahead. What more can I say? Shekhar should now move on, make original films. Has Shekhar run out of ideas? Surely not!"
However, Suresh Thomas, one of the producers of Benegal's film who along with Manmohan Shetty was reported to be planning to sue Kapur for $60 million, denied he had any such intention.
"The news came as a big surprise to me. I was not aware that I'm suing Shekhar Kapur for anything!" Thomas, the producer and managing director of Crescendo Music, told IANS.
"I believe Benegal must have had an argument over this with Kapur but we have nothing to do with it. It could be an issue related to Dev's idea taken from his website for Kapur's new movie 'Paani'.
"Benegal never called me and spoke to me about this issue; I don't know how this figure of $60 million was derived. I would love to make with that kind of money, but I'm surely not suing Shekhar Kapur," he confides.