Mahesh Bhatt, the director of the iconic 1990 film Aashiqui, has spoken out about the ongoing ownership debate surrounding the franchise. In an exclusive interview with Bombay Times, Bhatt said that the moral legacy of the franchise belongs to Gulshan Kumar, the founder of T-Series, and his son Bhushan Kumar.
Mahesh Bhatt BREAKS SILENCE on Aashiqui ownership debate, says franchise belongs to Gulshan Kumar
Bhatt said that he was approached by Gulshan Kumar in 1990 to make a musical film. Kumar gave Bhatt the freedom to choose the songs he wanted and promised to take the music across India. Bhatt said that the romance in the film was based on his first love and that the music was the vision of Gulshan Kumar.
In 2013, a sequel to Aashiqui was released, directed by Mohit Suri and starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor. A third film in the franchise, Aashiqui 3, is currently in production, with Kartik Aaryan in the lead role.
However, a row has erupted over the ownership and creative rights of the franchise. Vishesh Films, the production company founded by Mahesh Bhatt and his brother Mukesh Bhatt, recently issued a public notice claiming to be the rightful owner of the intellectual property rights associated with the Aashiqui franchise.
The veteran filmmaker asserted, “In this time and age when the moral compass of the world has shattered, and it’s become a moral desert, it’s important that elders behave like elders. Right isn’t always legal, and 50 per cent rights are in any case with T-Series. But I choose to stand for what’s morally right. In the case of Aashiqui, that moral legacy belongs to Gulshan Kumar and, in his absence, to Bhushan Kumar. Gulshan’s vision, support, and timeless music are at the heart of Aashiqui‘s enduring impact.”
He continued, “The ownership debate doesn’t interest me because I have never been a man of business. I have consciously stayed away from it. I don’t have the stomach to sit down and argue the legal aspects. That’s for the legal experts to sort out.
We are talking about the moral background. We come from a time when everything wasn’t spelt out. If you gave someone your word, you stood by it. Those values need to be resurrected even more today as everyone looks at the other with distrust.”
For the unversed, Mukesh Bhatt along with his brother Mahesh produced movies under the banner of Vishesh Films. However, due to differences, Mukesh Bhatt took over Vishesh Films and in May 2021, it was publicly announced that Mahesh Bhatt was no longer associated with the firm.
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