Shortly after actress Kangana Ranaut and director Kamal Jain announced a sequel to their 2019 film 'Manikarnika: Queen of Jhansi', new controversy has surfaced with author Ashish Kaul alleging possible plagiarism from his own biography of Queen Didda of Kashmir, upon who the film is based.
Speaking to Madhyamam, Ashish Kaul alleged shock at what he termed the 'brazen' nature of the alleged plagiarism of his book which has been extensively covered by national media for over 2 years.
"I have been inundated by thousands of calls from people and mostly media who brought this to my attention as my book is the sole book that covers life and times of Didda," Kaul said. "There is no other book that has a legitimate and historical story of Didda."
Kaul revealed that the entire story had been sent to Kangana on September 11 last year, with the request that she write a foreword for the new Hindi edition being published by Prabhat Prakashan.
The author also disclosed that the real issue was the lack of clarity on which story had been adapted by the Kangana-Kamal team. The only other known source was the 'Rajatarangini' by Kalhan which was written in the twelfth century. But that work portrayed Didda in a very negative light whereas his own book cast her as a nationalistic icon and the woman who guarded India for 44 years. This is most similar to the vision of the film Kangana announced.
"Those details are only and only available with me and my book 'Didda The Warrior Queen of Kashmir'...If they are using my story in any manner then I will protect my rights but if they are using another fictional story with no resemblance to my story then they are absolutely free to do as they like," he opined.
Kaul has a personal connection to the story of Queen Didda of Kashmir as his book is based on testimonies of Didda's descendants, including his grandmother who was a niece of a royal family of Poonch that was Didda's kingdom. He also possesses the sole copyright to her biography, dated 2017.
Kangana had previously been accused of 'hijacking' the script and direction of 'Manikarnika: Queen of Jhansi' by scriptwriter Krish who had spoken out about being sidelined by the actress. National Award-winning writer Apurva Asrani had also confronted the actress on her taking credit for his script in the 2017 film 'Simran'.
As for Kaul, he has not received any response from the actress or her sister and confesses that he has no idea how to contact the team involved in the film to shed light on the issue.
"See it is not that I am a newcomer, I have been in leadership roles in the industry for 26 years now..and an established bestselling author of 3 books. All this is brazen to me," Kaul lamented.