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Director Prem Kumar's statement on 96 story theft controversy

Plagiarism issues and story theft related controversies surrounding notable films are very much seen these days. The latest to join this list is the recent blockbuster, 96, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha in the lead roles. The film was directed by cinematographer Prem Kumar.

96 came into the controversy when legendary director Bharathiraja stated that he found the story of 96 to be very much similar to one of his associate's story. According to Bharathiraja, his associate, Suresh narrated a romantic love story in the year 2012, to him and they planned to film it. Suresh has been working as an associate to Bharathiraja for the past 10 years.

The 16 Vayadhinile director also shared that Suresh narrated the story of 96 to his friends including director Maruthupandian (Asuravadham fame). When Maruthupandian was thanked in the title card of 96, the doubt became stronger for Bharathiraja and Suresh. The audience were puzzled with this allegation from Bharathiraja and his associate Suresh.

However, director Prem Kumar, met the press and media, earlier this morning, to prove his genuinity in this issue. He was accompanied by directors Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Balaji Tharaneetharan, and Maruthupandian. Prem Kumar defended his side by stating, "When Premam released, people started to say that it had similarities with Autograph and they compared both the films. Same thing happened when 96 was out.

Fortunately, Cheran sir came out and clarified that both the films are contrastingly different and said that the approach of 96's screenplay was not similar to Autograph, though both the films dealt with the concept of nostalgic love. Director Nalan Kumarasamy spoke to me after the release and said he had a very similar story about childhood love and its nostalgia. I also heard that director Ram has a love story on these lines. 

96 is not a unique story and it is a very common episode in everyone's life, and I feel that is why many people are able to connect to it. We haven't worked on an out of the box script. When this issue came up, Bharathiraja called me to his house to talk about this issue. Since the film was performing really well at the box office, I thought their intention might not be right, and hence decided not to go.

He shouldn't have called me to his house. When they do that, it sounds wrong. I am ready to face the controversy in a legal manner, if they file a case in the court. The shocking part is the interference of an icon like Bharathiraja, whom we've looked up to. He knows how a film industry works and how a creative process happen. He should know that love is part of everyone's lives.

According to Suresh, his story was also based out of Tanjore, dealing with the 92' batch. I lived in brought up in Tanjore, and I did my schooling there. I have told in all of my interviews that I wrote the story of 96 after a real life reunion that happened two years back. I couldn't attend that reunion and I formed a story out of this, after discussing with my friends who were actually present at the reunion.

He (Suresh) says he couldn't register the story because of financial reasons and didn't have the required money. For a person who works along with a legend like Bharathiraja for the past ten years, I do not know if that could be possible. I registered my script in 2016 with the Writers Union and they were so supportive in arranging things for me. I faced no issue with the association like what Suresh says. Let them file a case in the court and I could handle it with solid proofs. I've shown the proofs to you (press) and I can do the same at the Court.