Lawyer insists rights to Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat’s story owned by Avinash Dhyani, Prashil Rawat

Advocate Nagesh Mishra, associated with 72 Hours: A Martyr Who Never Died that was released on 18 January, has said that Vijay Rawat (brother of the martyr Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat on whom the film is based) had filed a petition in the Delhi high court seeking compensation from the film’s makers.

“They [Vijay Rawat] wanted compensation. Vijay Rawat had filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court wherein they sought compensation from us [producer Prashil Rawat, actor-director Avinash Dhyani]. They were demanding money or wanted us to surrender our rights. Their petition was disposed of by the Delhi high court,” Mishra told Cinestaan.com.

A week ago, Dhyani, producer Prashil Rawat and their lawyer Mishra had held a press conference hitting out against established actor Sushant Singh Rajput and Abundantia Entertainment, who allegedly sent them a notice asking them to not go ahead with the release of 72 Hours: A Martyr Who Never Died as they hold the rights for the story of 1962 Sino-Indian war hero Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat. Rajput and Abundantia have also announced their film Rifleman that appears to be based on the heroics of Jaswant Singh Rawat.

As of now, neither Abundantia nor co-producer Pooja Films or actor Rajput have said that their film is based on Jaswant Singh Rawat.

Advocate Mishra informed us that his clients Dhyani and Prashil Rawat had received two notices from Rajput and Abundantia Entertainment — on 4 and 5 January each. The notices apparently claimed that they have the original rights to make a movie based on rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat’s life. However, this could not be confirmed from either parties as Abundantia Entertainment has refused to speak much on the matter, except that their legal team is looking into it.

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Advocate Mishra pointed out since no period is specified in their agreement with the Rawat family and so his clients hold perpetual rights for 60 years. “My client had signed the agreement with the Rawat family in 2015. Mr Vijay Rawat was one of the signatories to the agreement that was also signed by Jaswant Singh Rawat’s mother. We have no problem with anyone else making another film, but they will have to seek consent from us,” said Mishra. Jaswant Singh Rawat’s mother passed away in 2016 in Dehradun.

We reached out to Abundantia Entertainment again, but the official spokesperson merely told us that they are presently evaluating legal options in the matter.

However, a reliable source close to Rifleman unit’s said, “As far as I know, Abundantia Entertainment holds the rights since 2013, perhaps even before it. They [Dhyani and Prashil Rawat] made their film, we didn’t stop them from making [it]. Besides, it must be pointed out that a story is a historical event and anyone is free to make a film on a particular piece of history. I can only assume 72 Hours makers wanted to seek publicity through this.”

Meanwhile, Mishra also pointed out that his clients will take legal action if Abundantia Entertainment, Rajput or anyone tries to infringe on their rights. The advocate also claimed that his client could sue Rajput, Abundantia Entertainment for the financial losses suffered by his client.

“Three days before the release of our film they announced their film with a big star. Now our film is already out there playing in the theatres, and at the same time, you are announcing a film based on the same subject, so nobody will go to the theatre to watch our film. So, ultimately it is causing losses to us. We will be assessing the losses that our film has suffered due to the announcement of their film,” said Mishra.

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Efforts to trace Vijay Rawat have been futile so far.

There is no word on when Abundantia Entertainment and Pooja Films will begin filming Rifleman. Given the situation, it looks as if the fate of Rifleman will be decided by the court if Dhyani and Prashil Rawat decide to sue them. For the record, 72 Hours… was released on 18 January, and sank at the box office without a trace.

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