Sahara gears to fight for 'Karishma' copyright

MUMBAI: The press conference may have been called off and the first episode of Karishma - The Miracles of Destiny may not see light of day on Monday, 12 May.

But the politically resilient Sahara network is gearing to fighting the stay brought on by the copyright infringement suit brought against it by well known US-based novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford in the Kolkata high court. Industry sources say the network has put current promotions on hold in view of the fact that the first episode of the 'biggest television series ever' may not keep its appointment with the scheduled launch date. 

While there is much speculation regarding the circumstances and timing of the HC petition, industry sources believe that the network will bring all its political connections and financial muscle to bear to ensure that the first episode is not delayed by more than a day or two. 

Barbara Bradford - did Sahara steal her 'woman of substance'?

In her suit, Bradford has claimed that nobody has been authorised to make or produce a serial or film based on the novel. Scriptwriter Sachin Bhowmick, named one of the respondents in the petition, disagrees. "Karishma is an original piece of work and I have its copyright. I am confident of the fact that the High Court will retract its stay order. Also my script has been registered with the Cine Writers' Association. The whole case is one-sided and is bound to be resolved," he told this morning, even as Sahara remained tightlipped about the issue, saying it is sub judice.

When queried about the petition's claim that producer Akashdeep had admitted that the script was based on the novel, Bhaumick categorically states that "I am the scriptwriter of Karishma and not him."

Karisma in the serial - is she the original or inspired 'woman of substance'?

The timing of the stay has taken the wind out of Sahara's aggressive, never before attempted promotions just on the eve of its launch. Hoardings, painted trains, tie-ups and print campaigns have already started in several cities in the country. Sahara will now have to brake the promo activities, pending a possible delayed launch. As a first step, the press conference on Saturday where Karishma would have been present to answer media queries about her television debut, has been postponed.

Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose of the Kolkata high court has reportedly appointed a joint special officer for making an inventory of the infringing materials, including outline, script, all recorded materials, master tapes, compact disc, view compact disc and screenplay of the serial. 

Meanwhile, the official site of Bradford's Woman of Substance reads uncannily like the Karishma storyline - "Determined to rise above all that she has ever known, a young and impoverished Emma Harte embarks on a journey first of survival, then of unimaginable achievement. Driven to succeed, the iron-willed Emma parlays a small shop into the world's greatest department store and an international business empire: Harte Enterprises. 

Unhappily married twice, loving only the one man she can never marry, personal happiness eludes her. Harte Enterprises, the realization of her grand dreams, is her all: her heart, her soul, her life. When those closest to her threaten to destroy her empire through their greed and envy, Emma brilliantly outwits her enemies. She wreaks her devastating revenge on those who would betray her in a way only she knows how." 

The extremely well thought through timing of the petition gives the channel just one day before the courts close for the weekend to work out a counter-plan. It is now up to Sahara to work its way around this unexpected obstacle and stay on course for the spectacle it planned to unleash on the nation. 

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