On Friday, July 23, Ronnie Screwvala and Harman Baweja announced that they have signed Kartik Aaryan for Captain India, which will be directed by Hansal Mehta. The next day, producer Subhash Kale accused them of plagiarism and claimed that the plot of the film is similar to that of their project, Operation Yemen. Subhash Kale’s film, which will be directed by editor-turned-director Sanjay Sankla is about Operation Raahat, a 2015 operation wherein the Indian Armed Forces under the leadership of General V K Singh evacuated Indian and foreign citizens from Yemen during the Yemeni crisis.
When Bollywood Hungama reached out to Subhash Kale, he said, “We have been working since 2016 on this project. The cousin of our director Sanjay Sankla was the pilot on this mission. Sanjay Sankla has been a reputed editor and has worked on nearly 95 films. He researched extensively and when he narrated the idea to me, I said that we should work on it as it’s an interesting subject. We took 9 months to pen the script. We even got Mission Mangal (2019) writer Nidhi Singh Dharma on board. Our pre-production was nearly done. I wonder where the idea got leaked from. This episode is in the public domain but we were the first ones to register at the Screenwriters Association (SWA).”
Subhash Kale even claims, “Captain India waalon ne toh script likhna shuru bhi nahi kiya.” And then adds, “They had dates of Kartik Aaryan. The idea has not leaked from our side because we have signed a confidentiality agreement with everyone associated.”
The announcement press release of Captain India doesn’t mention that the Kartik Aaryan starrer is based on Operation Raahat. When asked about this, Subhash Kale reasoned, “Yes but the city of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen is visible on their poster, just like how it’s depicted in our poster as well. And that city’s architecture and landscape are such that it doesn’t match with any other city in the world. Also, the poster shows carpet-bombing happening over the city, an aeroplane going over Sana'a and the title Captain India are clear giveaways that their film is based on the same incident.”
Subhash Kale also said that he hasn’t reached out to the makers of Captain India, “Hansal ji is my friend. But maine unse iske baare mein baat nahi ki. Baat karke kya karenge? And anyway, hum unki film pe stay toh laayenge hi. IMPAA (Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association) has said that they’ll bring a stay on this film. T P Aggarwal and advocate Ashok Saraogi have confirmed. Screenwriters Association has told us that once Captain India makers reveal the film’s plot on social media, they’ll take action. Even if the scripts of both films are different, the storyline would be the same and hence both films would also be similar. Do same picture toh nahi ban sakti. It’ll then become a repeat of Scam 1992 (2020) and The Big Bull (2021) episode.” Interestingly, Scam 1992 was also helmed by Hansal Mehta.
Subhash Kale then revealed that reputed actors had shown interest in Operation Yemen, “We had spoken to Akshay Kumar and he had liked the subject. Paresh Rawal has even given his nod. So we have moved quite ahead and we’ll do the film, come what may. Captain India makers plan to shoot in 2022. We hope to film from November or December 2021.”
Subhash Kale then tells us, “We were only waiting for the actors to sign on the dotted line and come on board. We had also approached Ranbir Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur. We spoke to Vicky Kaushal through his father Sham Kaushal ji. Vicky liked the subject but his dates were not available. We hope to launch a poster after signing the actors. Akshay ji said he’ll have a narration after returning from London, and then decide whether he wants to come on board. He had met Sanjay Sankla. Both have a great relationship and Sanjay had edited several of his films like Rowdy Rathore (2012).”
He continued, “For the role of V K Singh, we spoke to Anil Kapoor, Paresh Rawal and Boman Irani. All three were interested to do the film. We were zeroing on Paresh ji as his age is apt for the part. He had told us to send the script today, which we’ll do. Mostly Paresh ji toh haan hi bolenge. If Akshay ji comes on board, we’ll shoot in 2022 as he doesn’t have dates. He got interested due to its patriotic theme.”
Subhash Kale heads Vikrant Studio, one of the top VFX studios in Bollywood. They plan to put their resources to good use for Operation Yemen. He said, “We are working on virtual technology in this film. Ronnie Screwvala won’t be able to do the same because only we have that facility. So we plan to create virtual sets of the airport and also the aeroplane. We even plan to show Sana'a city through CGI. We have spoken to a team in Turkey about it. The aim is to make a film matching international standards.”
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