The Mystery of the Who-Did-Not-Done-It


A renowned playwright in Tamil Nadu incidentally discovered that a play written by him was being staged in Kolkata without his name in the credits. This would have missed his attention if his son had not seen an e-article criticizing the play for not acknowledging the writer! The playwright then learnt that this play was to be performed at the Annual Theatre Festival of the National School of Drama (NSD). He wrote to NSD, the play's producer and the adapter of the play, an eminent Bengali playwright himself. No response. Notice sent. No reply! Finally, a suit was filed before the Madras High Court. Yes! Response!

NSD: Hey, no performance! Okay?
Play producer: Oops, I'll have it out with the translator and the playwright!
Bengali playwright: Producer, you mean to say you didn't give Tamizh playwright credits? Er, Mr. Tamizh playwright, sorry!
Tamil playwright: Accepted! You should have simply done this in the beginning.

The suit was withdrawn.


Pralayan, a distinguished playwright, wrote Pavun kunju a tamil play that was performed by his theatre group 'Chennai Kalai Kuzhu' well over hundred times in Tamil Nadu. Prabav translated this into the Telugu play -Bangaru Bitta, without Pralayan's permission. This was performed by Hyderabad theatre groups, Park Star & Bavitha Manchikalalu and they became the proud recipients of many awards. such as Nandhi Special Jury Award from Andhra Pradesh State Govt and other seven awards from Children Art Theatre. Pralayan was invited and honored by Park Star & Bavitha Manchikalalu groups in the awards function.

Pralayan: Though I didn't know of the translation in Telugu, I'm happy that Park Star and Bavitha have acknowledged me and honoured me. Let the art go forth and multiply!


Is the permission of the author required for translating, adapting, performing his work? The copyright holder's permission should be obtained before translating, adapting, performing and broadcasting his work.

What can happen when permission is not obtained? The copyright holder can either file a suit, if permission is not obtained, restraining the use of his work and claim damages or a criminal complaint.

Also read Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957

Best Practices or Quick, Tell Me How to Avoid Conflict!

Inform the playwright and get his permission, while choosing a script to perform, translate or adapt. Find out how he would like to be acknowledged. Inform the playwright even if he is not the copyright holder. Invite him for the performance.