KUALA LUMPUR: An award-winning novelist will go on trial with a well-known film director and his actor son over a plagiarism dispute.
Novelist Elias Idris, 63, said he had in September or October 2013 watched a local Malay film entitled Bohsia: Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam, which was aired through Astro Ria and found that there were similarities in the theme, plot, characters and messages with his novel, Aku Bohsia.
Elias, who used his pen name Anne Natasha Nita for the novel, said the story of the film was said to have been written and directed by actor cum director Mohd Syamsul Md Yusof, 31.
He said the film was produced by director Datuk Yusof Haslam, whose real name is Md Yusof Md Aslam, 61, and their production company, Skop Production Sdn Bhd.
In the suit filed on Nov 24 last year, he named Mohd Syamsul, Yusof and the company as defendants.
On Friday, High Court judge Justice Azizah Nawawi set five days from Oct 19 to hear the trial after meeting the novelist's lawyer M. Kumar in chambers.
Speaking to reporters here, Kumar (who also mentioned the matter for the defendants' counsel Aizul Rohan Anuar and Eugene Lee) said the judge ordered the defendants to amend their counter-claim by March 19.
In the statement of claim, Elias said he had bought a DVD (digital video disc) of the film and watched the movie.
He claimed that his novel had been copied by the defendants who produced the film without his consent.
Elias said the total collection on the sales of the tickets for the film was reported to have reached over RM4.2mil.
He said Mohd Syamsul had also been nominated for best screenplay for the film at the 22nd Malaysia Film festival.
According to him, the movie had also been nominated for best film for the 2009 Screen Award.
Among others, Elias is seeking for a declaration that the three defendants had violated his copyrights for the novel and is claiming for damages.
The defendants denied any plagiarism of his novel in their statement of defence filed on Jan 5.
They claimed that their reading and understanding of novel showed that it was centred on the lifestyle of a teenager, Anne who started her bohsia after she was raped by her father and became a prostitute due to the influence of her friends.
On the other hand, they said the film showed the lifestyle of two bohsia female teenagers, their enmity, a love triangle and a pimp.
The defendants said the meaning of bohsia according to a dictionary refers to female teenagers who preferred to loiter and are often involved in vice activities.
They said that the idea of the story on the lifestyle of the bohsia was not unique to the novel alone and that even the plaintiff had admitted that it is a social phenomenon.
In a counter-claim filed by the defendants on Jan 5, they said the novelist had on Nov 16 last year slandered them in his blog and had tarnished their reputation.
The defendants are seeking for general and exemplary damages and an injunction to restrain the plantiff from making any statements implying they had copied his novel.
In a reply to the counter-claim and defence statement filed on Jan 19, Elias among others, said he had written 12 novels and a documentary, and won many awards for his works.
Elias said the counter-claim was mala fide, had no merits and an abuse of court process aimed to delay the proceedings.